Why More and More People Are Eating Cicadas

Why More and More People Are Eating Cicadas

Trillions of cicadas are taking over some parts of the eastern U.S. for the first time in 17 years.

And while they’re commonly described as annoying, loud, and even gross, others have waited almost 20 years for this tasty treat to come round – and they have their cicada recipes ready, too.

Cicada fans are grilling, , sauteeing, and serving up these bugs, also known as Brood X. And with about 1.5 million of them per acre, there’s plenty to pass around the table, maybe as Spicy Popcorn Cicadas or Cicada Cookies?

What makes cicadas so appealing to some folks? For one, they’re filled with alternate, which is a sustainable protein, and are characterized by a “sweet, bitter flavor reminiscent of walnuts, chestnuts and adzuki beans” with a “gently crunchy exterior giving way to creaminess, like a soft shell crab,” Bun Lai, the chef of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Conn. said in a The New York Times interview.

“They’re really good on salads or tacos, or pretty much anytime you can replace shrimp,” TikToker Shane The Ninja said about them in a cooking tutorial video. He used garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, but notes that you can use any seasonings you like.

Related: Why aren’t we adding bugs to our diets?

There are over 3,000 species of cicadas around the world that have been around for thousands of years, National Geographic says. Some reappear each year and others (like Brood X) wait for 17.

This is par for the course in some cultures, like Chinese and Japanese, where they are commonly seen in art, folktales, literature, and even war strategy, according to NPR. Miya’s Sushi chef Lai used to “climb up trees, following the song of the cicada” as a child in Kyushu, Japan, where they represent summer and rebirth.

So while munching on cicadas may seem strange to North Americans – since eating insects isn’t all that mainstream – it’s a safe (and delicious) food habit to adopt, like it’s been around the globe. They’re not “starvation food” Lai says, they’re just tasty!

Photo Credit: jessada upani/Shutterstock.com; Georgi Baird/Shutterstock.com

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