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May 14, 2014 11:17 PM   Subscribe

Meat Atlas: facts and figures about the animals we eat
posted by Gyan (29 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
So we should eat crickets!
posted by armisme at 11:27 PM on May 14


I hold that there's a real reason that insects feature hardly at all in human diet, and that's because no matter how you dress them up they will always be gross.

Meat Atlas, good band, solid second album.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:47 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I'm sure cricket is fine. I had grasshoppers in Japan, baked in soy sauce and sugar. They are actually tasty but then you remember you're eating a bug, and it's all of a sudden impossible to continue chewing.
posted by Hoopo at 12:03 AM on May 15


Japanese style grasshoppers are awesome snacks! Crunchy and tasty.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:15 AM on May 15


I've eaten my fair share of insects, from chocolate covered mealworms to salt and vinegar crickets. They tend to be in the genre of "taste like whatever they're cooked in/with, but crunchy".
posted by Itaxpica at 12:20 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


because no matter how you dress them up they will always be gross.

Gross hasn't stopped millions and millions of people from eating all the things in a sausage. People will eat anything. Here are people happily eating tarantulas.
posted by pracowity at 1:31 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


"the report presents a global perspective on the impacts of industrial meat and dairy production, and illustrates its increasingly devastating impact on society and the environment. The way we produce and consume meat and dairy needs a radical rethink.”
I'm a vegetarian so many thanks for a post which increases my daily smugness intake.

Here are people happily eating tarantulas

A friend of mine was in Cambodia and said he ate everything offered to him, partly for the experience and partly not to be rude to his hosts. Ants, snake, different insects etc. The group he was with was offered tarantula one night and while the rest drew the line there, he (acting the big guy) said bring it on. He said they came out and there were two on the plate. Everyone took photos as he held the first one over his mouth and he was still feeling quite brave at that point. But then he dropped it in. In his words: "They're big fuckers". He said it filled his whole mouth, was really tough and rubbery, and he chewed. And chewed. And chewed. All the while frantically drinking beer to try and help it go down. Finally it did...and then there was the second one to go. He wasn't feeling quite so clever afterwards.
posted by billiebee at 2:50 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


@pracowity And of course witchetty grubs continue to be sought after by Indigenous Australians. But those guys have been eating them since forever.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:09 AM on May 15


no matter how you dress them up they will always be gross

Eh, people eat oysters. I'm a big fan of the tiny kind of shrimp you fry and eat whole, so I guess I'm in the Bring On The Bugs camp.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:28 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Shrimp et al? Insects of the sea. I don't touch them. Neither would I touch oysters - like licking phlegm off a tortoise.

Seriously though what I believe is that insects have always been with us, easy to catch and in ready supply so why have we not eaten them across all cultures and through all of history?

Because they're rank.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:32 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Also snails are yummy - obviously not bugs but close enough for government work. Therefore your argument is invalid.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:39 AM on May 15


I've eaten enough insects (plus all the stuff we call "seafood" but are really just aquatic bugs) to shrug at the idea. The bugs I've had tasted fine, had good texture except for the legs, and supposedly are nice and healthy to eat.

If environmental degradation or carbon taxes make meat too expensive, I suspect we'll start seeing new (or very old) forms of protein showing up in the western diet. Properly disguised (sausage has always been a favorite for using the weird stuff), farm-raised bugs may become common.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:54 AM on May 15


Also snails are yummy

If soused in olive oil and cut with heaps of garlic, maybe. Otherwise rubber.

(Do people eat slugs? I mean to say, virtually the same thing as snails, just without the build in spoon.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:00 AM on May 15


farm-raised bugs

What would a bug slaughter-house be like, I wonder.
posted by wabbittwax at 6:01 AM on May 15


... really tough and rubbery, and he chewed. And chewed. And chewed...
Now, tarantula is still outside of my experimentation as I've yet to hit Cambodia or other countries where it's eaten. But did he try a second tarantula somewhere else? I saw an in-the-field documentary about tarantula cuisine (!), where the women who sold them in the market explained how to cook them: fried, carefully, so the legs should be crispy but the belly should burst open, juicy, when bitten.

Apparently the prime market for these - if the documentary is to believed - is about 90km outside of Phnom Penh and attracts people from the capital just for tarantula shopping. The women selling them had giant sacks of living squiriming spideys. Zagat-rated and Michelin-starred.

Metafilter was almost certainly my source for this, but I cannot find the link...
posted by whatzit at 7:20 AM on May 15


What would a bug slaughter-house be like, I wonder.

Probably just a big freezer. That would accomplish slaughtering and cooling for transport in one step. My impression is that culinary insects are not butchered to any extent.
posted by jedicus at 7:25 AM on May 15


fried, carefully, so the legs should be crispy but the belly should burst open, juicy, when bitten.

suddenly have a hankering for a soft shell crab
posted by JPD at 7:40 AM on May 15


I've eaten my fair share of insects, from chocolate covered mealworms to salt and vinegar crickets. They tend to be in the genre of "taste like whatever they're cooked in/with, but crunchy".

Seconded. That goes for almost all of them, with two notable exceptions: live ants taste like strawberries becaus of the formic acid in their venom and silk worms taste like shit no matter how they are prepared (yes, even battered and deep fried in lard).

I'm a big fan of the tiny kind of shrimp you fry and eat whole

That would be pretty much how much of the world makes all kinds of shrimp. Peeling is for suckers and pulling off the heads leaves out a huge amount of the flavor (think crawdads!).
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:42 AM on May 15


But did he try a second tarantula somewhere else?

I think he pretty definitely put "eating tarantulas" in the "Never Again" file, so no.

the belly should burst open, juicy, when bitten

And I think that when I tell him this he will not be disappointed with his decision. I guess it's like squid (which, barf, so I'm not in the market for spiders) so if it's done well it's tender and if overcooked it's rubbery. But I think if I had to choose - on pain of death, you understand - between rubbery tarantula and one whose belly burst open when bitten... oh sweet jeebus i just threw up in my mouth a little
posted by billiebee at 7:43 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I should point out that as an Irish person I will quite happily eat black pudding, being pig blood mixed with oatmeal and spices and fried. But I wouldn't touch a tarantula.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:55 AM on May 15


I can't do carapaces. Or bone. Skeletons, endo or exo just don't work for me. If I could peel and eat grasshoppers, I think I would be ok with that. But the only land based arthropods that I can think of that are large enough to do that with are things like tarantulas. Although, I do wonder if you can eat some of the larger beetles. That could be pretty cool.

I am quiet happy to eat molluscs, although squid and octopus make me feel vaguely guilty, the same way pork/ham/bacon/other pig does.

I guess I internalized the thought that meat should not crunch. Getting rid of that will probably be really hard.
posted by Hactar at 8:19 AM on May 15


Bugs will never taste as sublime as a good medium-rare steak or BBQ ribs.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:22 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Skeletons, endo or exo just don't work for me.

Ah, more of a grub person, then.
posted by jedicus at 8:25 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Can't they make boca burgers from nutrient rich insects?

I mean that seems like a good deal for everyone:
Omnivores can gross out vegetarians.
Vegetarians can still claim to not be murderers.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:47 AM on May 15


If soused in olive oil and cut with heaps of garlic, maybe. Otherwise rubber.

Eh, you are doing it wrong: either boiled, then fried with rosemary or in a nice red sauce.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:42 PM on May 15


Kashrut is so limiting - we can have just a few species of locusts. One of those species swarmed from Egypt to Israel in the last few years, and some friends nicely brought me some frozen ones to try. I thought they were pleasant after marinating in olive oil, grilling, and dipping in schug (Yemenite hot "salsa") or hilbeh (hotly spiced fenugreek-seed jelly).
posted by Dreidl at 12:54 PM on May 15


p.s.: Termite grubs are deliciously both sweet and fatty. Fried with garlic, an amazing garnish for pizza, pasta, and salads. But not kosher. Roommate made good use of the ones infesting the house we're renovating.
posted by Dreidl at 12:57 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I used to work out at Meat Atlas but there were always people telling you your form was wrong.

Are any insects kosher?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:34 PM on May 15


That first infographic is fascinating! So many little facts lurking in there. NZ and Australia produce roughly the same amount of sheep but with such different amounts of space. The EU produces twice as much pork as anything else - does European cuisine really heavily favour pork? South Africa produces way less beef than I expected, especially with their reputation for biltong and steak. China produces heaps of meat! And it's not just confirmation bias that lamb is a pretty rare (sorry) meat in the States.
posted by mosessis at 6:14 AM on May 17


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