Is it really cricket to eat an insect? croaked the critic

HAPPY EATER

September 05, 1993|By ROB KASPER

It happened at the state fair. That is where I ate sauteed crickets.

cricket, she took a bite. She quickly grabbed a can of grape soda and took a long drink.

"They taste horrible!" Ms. Fowler said. "They didn't taste at all like peanuts."

Her friend Dot Harrington disagreed.

"They are not bad," said Ms. Harrington, who, following her friend's lead, had tried a small cracker topped with onions and crickets. "They are good with onions."

Ms. Scott took any rebuffs philosophically. "It is all in what we have been taught," she said. For example, she said, some people grow up thinking of oysters as a regular part of Sunday dinner, while others turn squeamish at the sight of an oyster shell.

Delighted to have a willing cricket eater, Ms. Williams offered me second helpings and told me how the dish was prepared. These were European brown crickets, a little smaller and somewhat better bred than the type of crickets found chirping out in the backyard, she said.

The European crickets, Ms. Williams said, had come from a special purveyor, "a bait shop. They cost about $14 for 500

crickets," she said. Next, to give them a distinctive flavor, the crickets had been fed apple slices. After a few days the apple-fed crickets were frozen, a humane way, she said, to bring the crickets' lives to a close. They were then baked on thick cookie sheets for half an hour in a 350-degree oven. Finally they were sauteed in a frying pan with butter and chopped onions.

This year was the first time crickets had been served at the state fair. After Tuesday's demonstration and attempted giveaways, there were a lot of leftovers. It seemed uncertain whether the cricket-cooking experiment would be repeated at next year's state fair.

"Was there a big crowd watching you?" someone asked one of the cricket cookers.

"No," came the reply. "People just came and went."

"And," one worker added, "when they saw what we were giving away, they went a lot faster than they came."

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