- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's cricket to eat Cambodian crickets.
And who wouldn't want a plate of teriyaki grasshopper kebobs paired with Rubicon Angus Scottish Ale?
"Don't worry, be hoppy," said celebrity bug chef David George Gordon, author of the award-winning “Eat-a-Bug” cookbook.
The occasion: the first-ever bugs-and-beer event at the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre.
Bring 'em on!
It was a pairing of bugs and beer--bugs selected by Chef Gordon and beer selected by The Pope of Foam” Charlie Bamforth--the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology.
Together they entertained, informed and educated the capacity crowd at the event, titled "Bugs and Beer—Why Crickets and Kölsch Might Be Matches Made in Heaven." The mood was jovial, the insects savory, and the beer delightful.
Which bugs did they pair with beer?
- Flavored mealworms with Ruhstaller Gilt Edge Lager
- Wasabi sago worms with Lagunitas Pils
- Baked European house crickets with Sudwerk Hefeweizen
- Cambodian crickets with Gordon Biersch Winterbock
- Ant and pear salad with Sierra Nevada Boomerang IPA
- Teriyaki grasshopper kebobs with Rubicon Angus Scottish Ale
- Cricket flour cookies with Heretic Chocolate Hazelnut Porter
- Chocolate-dipped chapulines (grasshoppers) with Berryessa Whippersnapper English Mild
All bugs must be cooked; no bugs should be eaten raw, cautioned Chef Gordon. Why? "Due to the possibility of parasites." He also warned the participants not to catch and eat that cockroach that crawled under your refrigerator or grab a pesticide-sprayed bug in the field. Bugs should be raised in hygienic conditions or purchased from reliable companies.
Chef Gordon said that 80 percent of the world's culture eat bugs, and two-thirds of all animal species are insects. "Bug-eating is good for the planet. Bugs are nutritious, delicious, cheap and plentiful.”
“John the Baptist was the most famous bug eater,” Gordon said. “The Bible tells us he ate locusts and honey. Angelina Jolie is the second most famous bug-eater. And I'm third, the godfather of insect cuisine.”
"Pope of Foam" Professor Bamforth kept the audience laughing with his references to beer preferences, which he boiled down to what people love and what people loathe. Bamforth likened some beers (not served at the event) as reminding him of “cat's breath, newly filled baby diapers, and wet horse blanket with mouse pee.” At one beer tasting, a beer reminded him of “a wet dog urinating in a telephone booth.”
The beer-bug fest was the brainchild of Elizabeth Luu, a UC Davis student-employee at RMI, who told the crowd that she entomophagy. "The more disgusting the bug, the more I want to eat it."
Gordon drew laughter when he said many Americans consider eating bugs "weird" or a novelty but look at the "weird things" that we eat, such as "an egg that comes out of a chicken butt."
RMI program representative Evan White said he especially loved two dishes: the pear-spinach-ant salad “with the crunchy weaver ants” and the dessert, the chocolate-dipped chapuline grasshoppers. “But then anything with chocolate is delicious,” White said.
Anne Schellman, manager of the UC Davis California Center for Urban Horticulture who attended with friend Javier Miramontes, a community education specialist for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in Fresno, said her favorites were the European house crickets and grasshopper kebobs. “They were both chewy but crunchy and had good flavor,” she said.
She wasn't so sure about the Cambodian crickets. “I ate the head and part of the body--after I pulled off the legs and played with the wings,” Schellman said. “It was just too darned big and intimidating to eat it (all).”
Gordon said it's only right that we humans eat the pests that eat our food in our garden. Tomato hornworms, for one. One of his recipes calls for tomato green hornworms, lavished with olive oil, green tomatoes, pepper, white cornmeal and basil.
Gordon mentioned that his “Orthopteran Orzo,” sprinkled with the tasty crunch of three-week old cricket nymphs, is quite popular. At one event, a pre-teen boy kept returning for more. “Don't they ever feed you at home?” Gordon asked him after the fourth helping.
“But this is way better than anything my mom makes,” the boy said.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
These things go together:
Ham and eggs, macaroni and cheese, and beer and bugs.
Beer and bugs? Definitely! Haven't you ever had a few crickets with your Kölsch?
Well, you will if you attend the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science's event, "Bugs and Beer—Why Crickets and Kölsch Might Be Matches Made in Heaven," set from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre on Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
Crickets? It's what's for dinner. And more.
UC Davis Professor Charles Bamforth, aka “The Pope of Foam,” will team with David George Gordon, aka "The Bug Chef," to create eight different insect-inspired creations for the ultimate tasting experience, says spokesperson and administrative assistant Elizabeth Luu. It was her idea--and a fine one at that!--to launch the event.
The RMI "has been a hotspot for famous chefs, wine and beer pairings, and cutting-edge research for all things gastronomic," Luu says. "The Institute places itself in the forefront of the entomophagy—'bugs as food' movement by providing an informational but entertaining dining experience for the curious consumer."
Eighty percent of the world consumes insects as a protein source, Luu points out. "As the world's population continues to grow exponentially, there is more need than ever for an alternative protein source."
Indeed. We prefer our honey bees in hives or photographs but people in many parts of the world, including Africa and Asia, eat brood comb. They consider it a delicacy.
Drone pupae, some beekeepers say in The Bee Source forum, are delicious, especially drizzled with a little honey. Bon appétit!
The UC Davis event will demonstrate various, innovative and creative uses for insects as a food source. You'll hear short lectures followed by tastings led by Bamforth and Gordon. Bamforth, by the way, is the distinguished Anheuser-Busch Endowed professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, and Gordon is a celebrity chef and the award-winning author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook.
Tickets are $50 for the general public and $25 for students. Here's what else is good about the event: A portion of the proceeds will go to the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology to fund teaching and research.
To register, visit the RMI website. For additional information, contact Elizabeth Luu at email@example.com or at (530) 754-6349.
RMI was made possible through the generous donation of $25 million from Robert Mondavi in 2001. The institute, involved in research, education and outreach, is comprised of two departments: Viticulture and Enology and Food Science and Technology.