Think I’ll go and eat (meal) worms

In May of this year, the sale of insects as food for human consumption was approved in Switzerland, with one Swiss supermarket chain (Coop in case you’re interested) announcing that they would be selling insect burgers. Jan got very excited when I sent him an article about the burgers and announced that we would have to try them. I was maybe slightly less enthusiastic, but I’ve always said I’ll try anything once, so…  The launch of the burgers actually ended up being delayed due to a lack of approved insects, but eventually, in August, I saw an announcement that they were going on sale. Only at select branches, as it turned out, and not at our local one. A colleague of Jan’s told him that the big supermarket behind the train station was selling them, but every time Jan went they didn’t have any. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, he came home with this:

insect burgers

I opened up the packaging to reveal a burger-like entity:

insect burger

We fried them in the pan according to the instructions:

Then served with some Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes) and cherry tomatoes.

To be honest, they didn’t taste any different to a veggie burger. Jan bought a “spicy” variety (he isn’t sure whether a “normal” version exists though since he just grabbed a pack) and they reminded me a bit of a spicy bean burger a vegetarian friend used to eat when I was about 10. Would I eat them again? Probably, although they aren’t the cheapest.

Originally, this was going to be the end of this post… but then we went to the autumn fair at the weekend and discovered the same company that makes the burgers selling their insect wares there. (And if you’re squeamish you may not want to look at the next few photos…)

Not only were they selling burgers, but also “Heuschrecke” skewers – which I thought were grasshoppers but apparently it’s the general term for grasshoppers, crickets and locusts and these particular ones were actually Eurasian Migratory Locusts. So there you go. I wasn’t brave enough to try a skewer, but we ordered a locust burger each. They also had actual, real, recognisable insects to try:

While we waited for our burgers, we got a little “trial plate” of insects to share. I ate a mealworm first, thinking they looked less scary (no legs!). Considering I find giant prawns creepy with their eyes looking at me you can imagine how I felt about locusts! But I managed to eat the weird shrimps on sticks in Taiwan (scroll to the end of the linked post to see them) so after Jan ate a locust and claimed it tasted nicer than the mealworms I gave it a go. Verdict: I’m not about to start eating dried insects as a snack any time soon but they didn’t actually taste too bad. The salted mealworms reminded me of the inside of a pistachio shell (you know the bit that sometimes comes off with the nut when you take it out?) while the locusts didn’t taste of a great deal, really. Jan preferred the locusts. And for any doubters 😉 here is photographic evidence that I actually ate a mealworm (or at least put one in my mouth):

go and eat worms

After a while, the burgers turned up. They looked a lot like the mealworm ones we had from the supermarket. A bit thicker maybe? And they came with locusts for decoration, of course 😉

Again, they tasted like veggie burger and the only identifiable thing I could see inside was tiny cubes of carrot. If nobody had told me they actually contained insects I would have had no idea! At 12 francs it costs exactly the same as a beef burger does at the stands along the river in summer, so fairly normal there.

So, would you eat insects (or have you already)? Only in burger form or would you be brave enough to try the skewer? Are insects the food of the future?
And, a question for any vegetarians and vegans out there: how do insects fit in? Do you think eating a locust or mealworm burger is the same as eating a beef burger or pork chop? Or is eating insects okay? (I am genuinely interested so please no arguments/riots in the comments! Constructive criticism is, of course, always welcome – and by constructive I don’t mean telling me I’m evil for eating things with eyes!)

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