Like many folks who wander the frontiers of entomophagy, the consumption of insects as food, I'm drawn to the unusual. Intact crickets — straight up, on crostini, in "crittle," with guava sauce — can make for eye-catching photos. However, the promise of decentralized cricket farming, a focus of this Alimentary Initiatives Future Food Salon, is not the creation of novelty foods but of a sustainable source of protein that can be employed like any other. At the salon, as I recall, I snagged seconds and thirds of some very good cookies that smacked of sea salt and chocolate. I remember, too, being told that they'd been made with cricket flour. The cookies lacked any obvious insect photo op, however; despite their deliciousness they don't appear here.
Also at the salon: mealworm-topped chocolate; blackberry melomel, a fruit-flavored mead sweetened with the work product of Texas honeybees; catara, a hot sauce and purported aphrodisiac in which South American leafcutter ants play a featured role. (On this evening, the bottle remained shut tight.)
The final two photos are of lerp sugar, a rarity obtained by entomophagy proponent Dave Gracer. This sugar is derived from honeydew excreted by the larvae of a particular psyllid, a plant-sucking insect, that feed on eucalyptus. The crystallized honeydew forms a dome — the lerp — that helps shield the larvae from predators; the domes themselves, however, are easy pickings for patient foragers. Gracer likened lerp sugar to the original manna from heaven; my first thought was of the original bottom-of-the-box breakfast cereal.
Future Food Salon: Cricket Anyone?
The Center for Social Innovation (The Starrett-Lehigh Building), 601 West 26th St. (Eleventh-Twelfth Aves., suite 325), Manhattan
(The salon was held on August 14, 2013)