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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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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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