Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Stir Fried Cricket Switcharoo

There's three kinds of people who eat bugs.
  1. People who actually like them.
  2. Snobs who want to look open minded and sophisticated.
  3. Curious screwballs (like myself ) who want to see what the big deal is.
Some friends roped me into to lunch at Wazooo, a trendy eatery that serves beef, chicken, pork, fish, tofu... ...and bugs. I'd never been there before.
"If I order the stir fried crickets," said Joe, "will anyone try 'em?"
"Sure," I said. "I'll taste a cricket."
How bad could it be? I thought. Was a bug that different than a shrimp or a crayfish? And even if it tastes bad, I'll have a funny story to tell.
Joe ordered. The waiter talked him out of the crickets and into Fried Sea Worms.
This was too far down the food chain.
My old job at the tropical fish shop had introduced me to many kinds of worms. These weren't things you wanted anywhere near your mouth.

"Whoa wait," I said. "I said I'd taste a cricket. I never said anything about worms!"
"Aw," said Joe. "You said!"
"I said I'd try bugs. Not worms."
"But they're on the insect menu! The waiter says they're real good."
"Okay," I grumbled.
The worms arrived wrapped in lettuce leaves. They looked like canned fried onions. At least they're tiny I thought, extracting one.
"Hey you can't eat 'em like that, Everyone gets their own wrap!" Somebody plopped one on my plate.
I looked closely. They weren't worms! They were thin, tiny fish. Tropical fish stores sell frozen and freeze dried ones as pet food. (They also sell crickets. Does the chef swings by Petco each morning for "groceries?" A bait shop?)
I bit into my wrap. The "worms" had a fried onion texture. A salty fishy taste. Not horrible, not delicious. Memories of the fish shop ruined them: You feed this to fish! You feed this to fish!


stray g said...

oh gosh. this reminds me i'm in the provinces. unless fast food chains start stir frying bugs, we won't get them here. (Now road kill's another story....) I admire you for calling fish food fish food: sounds like the emperor's new clothes.

Sally said...

This is so funny-- sure it wasn't sea monkeys? I can imagine how that pet store background could definitely affect your view of things. I can remember bringing home a bag of some kind of worms for a turtle we had, and the rustling noise in the back seat was very disturbing. Also nifty illustrations.

Namowal said...

Hi Stray,
Your comment made me realize what a weirdo-rama life I (sometimes) lead.
Here's the link to the real place (I changed the name). I agree there's an emperor's new clothes element going on. Here's the link to the real place (I changed the name). Be sure to check out the menu for bug wackiness.

Hmm... there was a resemblance! I bet if you fried up sea monkeys they'd taste the same. Here's a photo I found of the dish in question. Fish food, I tell ya!
I know what you mean about getting creeped from the noise of worms scooting around. I think both bugs and worms trigger a natural "ick" factor.

Linda said...

What a story! I was on the edge of my seat.
(And I'm loving your illo's.)

stray g said...

omg I just googled and found a review of their cicada soup; still i suppose it is protein; sounds kinda third world; maybe solve food shortages

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda.
And to think I almost didn't post this because it was too freaky/gross.

Hi Stray,
I saw the article about Cicada soup too. shiver. Looks like it's the Chunky of bug soups!
I wonder what happens if you find a fly in that soup? Do you send it back? Or is it a bonus?

Sally said...

the Chunky of bug soups? Best thing I read all day!

booda baby said...

1. The story's reeeee-pulsive. Can not even read it. I can't even eat fish if I've had a glimpse of the eyes. Same thing with shrimp. I am such a child of the Processed Food Generation. Midwestern, you know. :)

2. The artwork is the OPPOSITE of repulsive. Very very fun!!

Namowal said...

Thanks, Sally!
Boodababy, yep, it's creepy stuff. I guess I'd better not tell you what's on the rim of their margaritas glasses...

There can only be one PHYL said...

i just had like an overdose of noodles last night...this was just cherry on the sundae for me LOL i love the drawings as always!! never fail to make me smile. u should check out the doodles i did on my page lmfao it looks hillariously Mr Dookie :)