Beetle Chips And Other Stories

I was probably too young to remember when my mother admonished me not to eat bugs, but I’m sure she must have. I really would have preferred to follow her advice.

I realize there are some parts of the world where bugs are, if not delicacies, at least a dietary staple. Even here in Canada I’ve seen cricket lollipops and chocolate-covered grasshoppers, but I’ve never tried them. Hell, I grew up on the prairies. Once you’ve smelled the stomach-churning scent of grasshopper guts slowly barbequing on a hot engine and seen a 12” worm squeeze out of a cricket’s butt, you’re pretty much over the idea of eating grasshoppers and crickets.

Which makes the accidental ingestion of bugs that much more revolting to me. I’ve never experienced the clichéd ‘bite into an apple and find half a worm’, thank goodness. But I’ve come perilously close to devouring a couple of giant shiny black beetles.

Okay, they weren’t exactly ‘giant’ – they were probably only about an inch long. But still. That’s pretty-damn-big when we’re talking about bugs in food.

Once I was absently munching chips while reading. I don’t know what made me look into the bag at precisely the right instant, but there it was: a big black beetle lying belly-up and tastily coated in sour-cream-and-onion powder. My next mouthful would’ve had a very odd taste indeed.

Then I remembered I’d taken that bag of chips on a camping trip the week before, and apparently I’d picked up a hitchhiker. At least he died happy, surrounded by more food than he could ever eat. But I carefully avoided thinking about what he might have left behind on the chips.

Another time I was startled by exactly the same type of black beetle scuttling out of a peach pit as I cut the peach open. Fortunately I hadn’t bitten into the peach, or I’d have gotten a squirmy mouthful.

And I’m an authority on squirmy mouthfuls, after the time I drank from a garden hose and ended up with a large spider crawling across my tongue. That cured me of drinking from the garden hose without letting it run for a while first.

I’m sure I’ve eaten my fair share of carrot maggots – they’re exactly the same colour as carrots, and I’d eaten quite a few carrots before I realized what was causing those itty-bitty tunnels. And I’ve definitely had my fill of gnats or whatever those bugs are that hover in giant clouds over the road. If you’re on a bike or even walking fast, there’s just no way to avoid them short of suicidal evasive action.

All this was brought to my mind a few weeks ago when I bolted awake in the middle of the night. As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t take much to make me do that, but this time it wasn’t a false alarm. Something was definitely wrong.

Then I realized there was a funny taste in my mouth. And there had been a lot of fruit flies around…

Anybody else got bug stories? Have you ever intentionally eaten bugs?

40 thoughts on “Beetle Chips And Other Stories

  1. Pingback: Scrotums Rule! …Or not. | Diane Henders

    • That’s right, I’d forgotten about the ladybug salad and picking all those little corpses out of the greens! And how could I forget the waitress’s reaction: “Oh, gross!” That’s it. No apology, no offer to replace the salad or take it off the bill. Customer service at its finest.


  2. I had a fly once that came to a sickly end as it landed on one of my teeth as I was yawning (!) and when I brought my teeth together… well, you know…
    but apart from that, Diane, I’ve had little experience in the world of bug cuisine. Quite lucky, methinks… Although once I had another fly in my eye which mysteriously vanished when I tried to get it out… a few days later I was blessed with conjunctivitis.


  3. First time I ever heard about deliberately eating a bug was in junior high school. A student from Hawaii got a package from an Aunt and it was “delicacies” all crisply fried. I’ve come across them occasionally in my food in restaurants etc. so I always check closely. It’s getting harder and harder to trust anything from markets and restaurants. We use to do the same thing with water when I was young. I wouldn’t trust it any more for sure.
    OH! Love seeing the 80% mark too. Can’t wait.


    • I wish that 80% mark was on the writing instead of the plotting, but I’ve been short on writing time lately. The book is clamouring to get out of my head and onto the page but the fingers haven’t had time to hit the keyboard for more than a minute or two at a time. Next week… 😉

      And I try not to think about restaurant food. I just eat and don’t look too closely at my plate…


      • LOL, I guess I worked in too many restaurants when I was young to give them a pass on what leaves the kitchen. Not that ALL of them were that way but enough for sure. On the rare times that we do eat out I tend to move my food just a bit before I take that first bite.


  4. YOu are right Diane that in so much of the world insects are staples. Cycling I manage to eat a fair amount of bugs. If I didn’t spend so much time gasping with my mouth open the poor creatures would be far safer.


  5. My father was painting the trim round a window and had an open can of beer nearby for refreshment. He reached over without looking and took a swig. The wasp that had crawled inside the can stung him on the uvula (the little thingy that hangs down in the back of your throat) and we had to take him to the hospital in case his throat swelled shut. It didn’t and he was okay, but was more careful about outdoor drinking after that.


  6. My parents were great canoe enthusiasts and I feel like I grew up wedged into a space between siblings and our gear with nothing to do but watch the constantly changing reflections on the water’s surface. Traveling a circle route with a family of 9 in 2 canoes necessitated paring down your baggage to the fewest things possible. In the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s there was no talk of bacterial laden lakes, stream, or rivers, so if you got thirsty, you dipped into the water and drank. If you got fancy, you added Koolaid and sugar. With breakfast, you added Tang, the breakfast beverage of astronauts. One day we kids noticed a lot of movement in our beverage. When we complained about the almost invisibly small, but very vigorous and numerous swimmers, Dad said, ” Drink it. It is just extra protein.” You learned that you ate the nasty instant pancakes that were runny in the middle and burnt outside and you drank buggy Koolaid, because that’s all there was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Extra protein” – ha! That’s what I always tell myself when I discover I’ve eaten bugs, but I’m not sure if I could get a beverage down my throat while they were swimming actively in my drink (anymore). I remember the days of scooping up drinking water from over the side of the canoe, too, but now I’m not so worried about the bugs I can see; I’m more worried about the nasty things I can’t see.


  7. A logger from the north woods goes to Montreal for a short holiday and decides he wants to eat fancy. He goes into an expensive restaurant but has no idea what the menu is so asks them to bring him a fancy expensive dinner. First came soup then salad and finally they served him a lobster. “I drank your dishwater and I et your bouquet but I’m damned if I’ll eat that bug”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry about that. The good news is I’ve never seen a carrot maggot in a store-bought carrot, so unless you’re growing your own you should be safe. And if that doesn’t make you feel any better, at least the maggots taste exactly like carrots… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Some near misses and close calls, certainly, and a couple before I decided full-face helmets were the way to go when riding motorcycles, but never intentionally. Bugs just aren’t my favorite people. Although most of my least favorite people certainly bug me. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

    And thpeaking of bugging people, only thirty-five per thent? You’re falling behind. Thnap it up, thithter ! 🙂


    • Thorry about the lack of progreth. I’m on the road again tho I didn’t get much done. Promithe to do better… 😉

      Funny, every time I think of bugs and riding motorcycles, I think of that scene from Happy Days where Richie is learning to ride a motorcycle and Fonzie is giving him pointers. After a list of tips, Fonzie adds, “And don’t smile.”
      Richie sobers. “Why not?”
      “You get bugs in your teeth.”

      Liked by 1 person

        • That’s just nasty! It must have taken major self-control to pull over instead of rising right off the bike!

          Friend of mine got a big bumblebee in the kneecap at highway speed and even without getting stung he ended up with a helluva welt just from the impact. The bee got the worst end of the deal, but still…

          Liked by 1 person

  9. “and seen a 12” worm squeeze out of a cricket’s butt”—Well, thanks so much for that image, Diane…

    Of course, the beetle in the peach wasn’t much better. I have an apple on the counter I planned to eat later. Now you have me rethinking that decision.

    My husband had a fly in his burrito once. He thought it was a black olive, which was weird considering he had told them to hold the black olives. Which was why he plucked it out in the first place. Had it been me, I would’ve assumed it was another black olive and eaten it. Wonder if I would’ve noticed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm. Yep, I guess I can add dead wasps to my “bugs-devoured” list. That’s okay. Better than eating a live wasp, like one of my friends – being stung in the mouth just isn’t fun. I never leave my beer uncovered when I’m outdoors anymore…

      Liked by 1 person

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