Monday, 13 May 2013

More on cicadas

[Posted by Julia.]  A friend of ours pointed me toward this article, about the cohort of cicadas due out on the east coast this summer:

I'll quote a bit of it here, in case the link fails or something:

“It’s a delicacy that’s rare,” says Betancourt, who’s known to dine on a few bugs from time to time. She calls cicadas "the shrimp of the land.”
“They are arthropods, which means they have an exoskeleton,” she said. “We regularly eat the arthropods of the sea and those are the shrimp, lobsters and crabs. And so cicadas are arthropods too.” ...
Betancourt suggests trying to grab the magicadas when they’re fresh from the ground and undergoing their molting stage, which consists of shedding their skin as they prepare to fly away to find a mate.
“That’s when they’re softest,” she said. “When they first emerge, they’ll be kind of a green color and after a few hours they’ll harden.”
The scientist says you’ll most likely find the soft cicadas in the morning hours. She says you can still eat them once they harden, but you should expect a little extra crunch. You’ll also want to pull off the wings, because, like corn kernels, they can get stuck in your teeth. ...
“Boiled they’re going to taste a lot like shrimp. If you eat them au naturel, raw, they’ve got a delicate nutty flavor; a buttery texture,” he said. “I like the soft-shelled ones.”
Both entogastronomists -- what insect eaters are called -- warn those with food allergies, specifically those who are allergic to shellfish, should consult their doctor before eating cicadas. Betancourt says you should also avoid binging on cicadas that have been living in areas where a lot of pesticides have been used. ...
For the squeamish, Raupp says he has a land and sea analogy he likes to use.
“Have you ever eaten an oyster or a clam out of the bay? It lives on the bottom of the bay and filters, you know what (feces),” he said. “You’d eat this thing, but would not eat this delectable insect that’s been sucking on plant fat for 17 years? I think it’s weird.”
Betancourt is more pragmatic, offering this piece of advice for the cicada-eating virgins: “Close your eyes when you’re taking the bite.”

I have some personal issues about eating anything that isn't plant life. As an ethical (as opposed to health-oriented) vegetarian, I can no longer bring myself to eat sentient creatures. However, I don't know how sentient shrimp or cicadas are. Is it just human vanity that allows us to imagine that any other life forms that are not human are somehow less able than we are to feel or have an interest in life? I think it is. Human vanity comes from being conscious, from being self aware, and we figure those other creatures are not self aware, because they don't act like we do. Of course, I am not the first to think this! And in fact, it forms the basis for the plot of many a sci-fi film where aliens treat humans as lesser creatures, and show up the hypocrisy of our human vanity. Ecclesiastes 1 has a lot to say about that.

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