What does a cicada taste like?
I easily gathered eight cicadas while going about my morning
chores on Thursday, and I popped them all into the freezer so they
would perish quickly and then be ready for a lunch taste test.
You can eat cicadas raw, but I needed all the help I could get to
overcome the "I'm eating a bug" factor, so I sauteed them in a bit of
vegetable oil, salt, and pepper for about ten minutes until the
exoskeletons were pretty crunchy. Then I served the wildcrafted
treat up, four cicadas per plate.
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I couldn't talk Mark
into eating a single one --- he said he might try a cicada another time
if I removed the wings. Adding the insects to a stir fry (and not
telling the recipients) might be another good way of
tricking non-believers into taste-testing cicadas. And, to be
honest, I had to look in the other direction while popping the bits of
invertebrate flesh into my mouth, a bit like what I do when I get a
shot. (If I can't see it, the scary thing isn't there and I can
focus on my real senses.)
So, what do cicadas
taste like? Actually, when I could ignore the fact that I was
eating an insect, they were delicious. Keep in mind that I
taste-tested what's known in culinary circles as "soft-shelled cicadas"
--- youngsters who have just popped out of their nymphal skins and
haven't yet hardened up their exoskeletons.
I didn't detect the
almond or pistachio flavor reported on the internet. Instead, the
texture (and flavor, actually) was like the flesh from the one lobster
tail I've tasted, but without that faint hint of fishiness, and with a
little crunch when my teeth hit the wings. (I really liked the
cicadas wings-on and don't recommend removing the appendages.)
Since there are several species of periodic cicadas, I wouldn't be at
all surprised if each one tastes a little different.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd
give these sauteed cicadas a 9. In addition to tasting good, the
insects also really agreed with me --- as I started writing this post,
my mouth watered and I snuck one of the cicadas I'm saving into my
mouth for a snack. On the other hand, it probably would have
taken all day to gather enough cicadas to serve as the protein source
for a whole meal, so I'll just keep snagging the delicacies as I pass
Which is all a long way
of saying --- I recommend them! If you've got cicadas crawling up
out of the ground, now's a perfect time to see if you like them as much
as I do.