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Eating Insects, France's Rising Trend

Eating Insects, France's Rising Trend

From Michelin chefs and Parisian bistro to home kitchen: in France eating insects is turning into an ecological issue, and becoming a rising trend.

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Eating insects is no longer such a taboo: according to statistics, 8 people out of 10 eat them as part of their diet. However, something must be changing radically, especially if French chefs got involved: France sees eating insects as an ecological issue. Ecolò, it's called: full of protein, minerals, less energy goes to raising them compared to bovines.

To go from foie gras to red palm weevil with truffle oil, or from steak tartare to worms with feta cheese and beetroot, from oysters to water scorpions with peppers and black garlic, is not an easy deed. Not far from the Eiffel tower, they are trying, and they are certain their effort will save the planet. Le Festin Nu opened its doors to Paris' Montmartre (18th Arrondissement) in October. "The Naked Meal", as it's translated, is a bistrò that serves insects on the menu. The French press can't stop talking about it, emphasizing how draining meat can be for the resources of the Earth, while fish are going extinct, and pointing out to worms and grasshoppers as humans' ultimate food destiny. The customers' intrigued and amused faces only confirm what chef Eli Daviron says: "Eating insects is a form of transgression". If you aren't convinced, Daviron explains that a grasshopper tastes just like seafood, or dried fruits, on the crusty side".

The idea crossed the ocean all the way to a restaurant named Antojeria La Popular, in the Village. They started serving tacos with crickets, hamburgers with grasshoppers and chili sauce, a dish they later named Grass-Whopper. However, going back to France, the prize for experimenting the most goes to chef David Faure, Michelin star in 2010, who tried something new at his restaurant Aphrodite, in Nice. Already back in May, he was starting to put insects on his Alternative Food menu. Among the offered dishes, a bavarian cream with peas and carrots topped with worms or fried crickets in buckwheat, and foie gras.

Perhaps he was the inspiration for a London restaurant that served roasted tarantula, king scorpions, and chocolate dessert with silkworms, ants, worms and pigeons, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of a pest control and exterminator service called Rentokil. FAO believes insects can save the planet and end world hunger in countries like Thailand - leader in cultivating insects - and France has the first company that cultivates insects for culinary purposes. The company is called Micronutris : you can buy a box with five different themes, or a box of thirty crickets on Insectes comestibles, on Mangeons des insectes, you can find the famous insect Macaroons; these were created by pastry chef Guy Roux using Micronutris' products. Tomorrow's kitchen could preserve some more surprises such as new machinery and utensils: Mansour Ourasanah made the Kitchen Aid for the American family, it's a vase in which to cultivate and kill edible insects, it was renamed Lepsis. In Vienna, Katharina Unger designed Farm 432, a machine that can make half a kg of larvae a week.

Watch out, famous restaurants might start adding all sort of sauces and insects to their menu. If you think it's too edgy, just remember it's nothing unusual in China. In Shanghai, it's almost common to hear a waiter ask the following question to an expat: "do you care for more than four legs?". They might not ask this question in the future.

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  • LittleHerds said on

    Great read, love hearing about what others are doing around the world! We're pumped to have Katharina Unger joining us for the Future Food Salon ATX in Austin this month.

    We would love to chat with Alessandra or any of the mentioned chefs and companies about their experiences with edible insects, and how we can help them from our side of the pond.

    We're an educational nonprofit in Austin Texas teaching kids and adults about edible insects and how eating bugs can feed the world and save the planet! Check us out at: Startsomegood.com/littleherds

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