5 Creepy Crawlies People Love to Eat

Imagine a place where in addition to the usual Meat and Fish categories on a dinner menu, you had your choice from Insects and Amphibians. If you grew up with it, you probably wouldn't think it unusual in the slightest. In fact, some 1,700 species of bugs are eaten in more than 100 countries around the world.

That's what the waiter at Typhoon restaurant in Santa Monica told me when he saw my jaw drop into my lap upon scanning their menu (ants, sea worms, and frogs' legs are just a few of the delicacies they feature). And no, I wasn't really feeling squeamish, just taken by surprise. Of course, I knew insects were consumed back in ancient Greece and Rome. In fact, the 1st century Roman scholar Pliny wrote that aristocrats enjoyed beetle larvae. And in one of his writings, Aristotle described the ideal time to harvest cicadas for the best taste.

And, sure, I'd heard about people eating dogs in parts of China (check out this vid here for proof—however, not for the faint-of-heart). And, sure, I even know people right here in this country who like to eat things like turtle soup, or shark (thresher shark sandwiches are a staple at this Naples, Florida restaurant), but the items on Typhoon's menu really knocked the wind out of me for a second. And made me curious as to what else I could find on some menus around the world. Here are the results:

1. Scorpions

To insects, all species of scorpions are poisonous and usually deadly. But only a very small number of the more than 1,000 known species can be dangerous to humans. In Singapore, where Scorpions are eaten most often, the bugs are usually fried and then skewered. Some eateries, however, will serve them on a chunk of battered white fish, tempura-style.

2. Grasshoppers

grasshoppersIn Mexico they call them chapulines, even though that's not the Spanish word for grasshoppers. No, the word chapulines comes from the Nahuatl language and is most often used in Oaxaca, where the special grasshoppers are consumed in abundance when in season (between May and September). They're sold as snacks at baseball games, where they're fried or barbecued and then seasoned with garlic, chiles and lemon. In Oaxaca City, they're also often found stuffed in quesadillas.

3. Locusts

friedLOCUSTSNot too long ago, Thailand was facing a major locust problem. Even though they're considered clean because they mostly feed on the leaves of rice-plants, who wants locusts taking over their country? When traditional pesticides didn't solve the problem, the country hit upon a solution: Eat "˜em! That's right, the government even handed out special recipes explaining how the critters could be enjoyed in a variety of different ways. In this photo you see them served fried.

4. Maguey Worms

wormsConsidered a delicacy in some parts of Mexico, these worms, or larvae of a giant butterfly called the tequila giant skipper, or aegiale hesperiaris, are actually very healthy and nutritious. Usually deep-fried or braised with a spicy sauce, they're most often served in a tortilla.

5. Crickets

cricketsuseThe Taiwanese eat lots of different kinds of bugs, including sautéed caterpillars, but crickets are one of the most common delicacies you'll find. They're prepared by stir-frying them with chili pepper, basil, garlic and then mixed and served atop a bed of shoestring potatoes.

What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten and where did you have it? Would you try it again?

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Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels
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If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

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15 Dad Facts for Father's Day
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Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

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