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?