Where meat is concerned, some people enjoy a bit of an adventure, while others prefer not to stray far from the beaten track. The occasional foray into the realm of experimentation has only served to confirm that I am definitely one of the latter. In Bali last year I was chewing away at a morsel of ‘ricefield eel’ when I became convinced that I was swallowing what I’d call ‘garden worm’. I don’t suppose I was, but there was no way I could finish it. I had to hide it under the snail satay that I’d also abandoned after the first brave mouthful.
I really wish that I were less squeamish, because eating squirm-inducing critters makes such good sense. They’re a cheap source of protein and they’re everywhere: more than two billion people worldwide already use them to supplement their diets. When the cows and hens become unviable, those who can stomach insects and the like will rule the world.
Future masters of the universe will be glad to know that bug-buster Rentokil was so successful with last year’s free pop-up ‘pestaurant’ in the City it has decided to do it all again. In 2013, 3,000 people turned up and tucked in, encouraging the company to stage similar insectaventions in Washington DC, Cape Town, Sydney, Dubai and Paris.
On today’s menu are salt and vinegar crickets; plain roasted locusts; chocolate-covered mixed bugs; Mexican spice mealworms and scorpion lollipops. Those who fancy something more substantial can tuck into sweet-chilli pigeon burgers, or turn up at 11am to grab one of 100 early-bird breakfast pies with mealworms. Rentokil has even roped in three former ‘Great British Bake Off’ contestants to produce delicious bug cakes. What more could an entomophagy aficionado ask for?
I’d love to say I’ll see you there but in this instance, what didn’t kill me has failed entirely to make me stronger. While you’re embarking on a culinary voyage of discovery, I’ll be holed up in the office with a cheese sandwich and a nice cup of tea. But bon appétit, brave ones, I envy your pioneering spirit. By Sara O’Reilly.
Free, St Paul’s. Thursday Aug 21, 11am-3pm. One New Change, New Change Rd, EC4M 9AF.
For more weird and wonderful food take a look at these five quirky pop-ups happening this week in London.