Want to taste Cicadas? Join the Bug Chef for cicada dishes at the Butterfly House

ST. LOUIS – Those with a thirst for cicadas can join the Bug Chef at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House on May 24 for cicada dishes and an educational forum on the practice of eating insects.

There will be two demonstrations on May 24, at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. The Butterfly House requests that guests attend only one demonstration to allow others the opportunity to learn about cicadas. Seating is limited and will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

While the Butterfly House will not be offering cicada tastings, guests can sample other insect-based snacks and take cicada recipe cards to try at home.

During the demonstration, the Bug Chef will teach guests about cicadas and show how they can be incorporated into two culinary dishes: cicada scampi and spicy deep-fried cicada.

“Our goal in cooking insects is not to convert everyone to an insect-centric diet, but to show people that there are other options available,” says the Bug Chef. “If a few people have a more open mind about trying new foods or changing the way they look at what they eat, then that is a win.”

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The Butterfly House acknowledges that eating insects may be taboo for local audiences, but the United States is in the minority when it comes to incorporating insects into their diet.

Around 80% of the world’s countries cook with insects, such as the fried caterpillars of South Asia and the grasshopper tacos of Mexico. There are even books on how to cook cicadas, which apparently have a nutty taste and a nice crunch when sautéed.

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To catch cicadas, the best bet is to find a wooded area. Cicadas are most tender out of their shell; the exoskeleton is not tasty. When hunting for cicadas, watch them climb up a tree, begin to molt out of their shell, and snatch them up once they are free of the shell.

Blanch them in boiling water for one minute, then put them into a zip-lock bag and place them in the freezer before preparing them to cook.

“Americans eat many close relatives of insects already without a second thought,” says the Bug Chef. “Water bugs, which are a fixture of special occasions in other countries, are closely related to lobsters, shrimp, and crabs. In fact, if you are allergic to shellfish, you are likely also allergic to cicadas or crickets.”

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