With the official start of summer on the horizon, people like Aaron Jones are already breaking out the grill for a cookout with their community, but one ingredient in their meals depended on the arrival of specific weather conditions.
While their arrival was slowed in the northern range of their territory due to cooler conditions, the songs of the Brood X cicadas are now ringing throughout the eastern U.S. After 17 years, with soil temperatures having reached 64 degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of about 12 to 18 inches, they've finally arrived.
And in some places, these insects have found themselves going from backyards to dinner plates.
Brood X has emerged across the eastern U.S., and some Americans have started adding them to their meals. (Emmy Victor)
On Thursday, May 27, a local pop-up group called All Creatures Yum! cofounded by Jones and Jeremy Chasteen, held a cicada cookout to introduce the community in Bloomington, Indiana, to the new cuisine.
AccuWeather's National Weather Reporter Emmy Victor stopped by to brave a bite of a taco herself, determining that the cicadas she tried tasted like shrimp, and other guests shared their thoughts with her surrounding the cuisine.
AccuWeather National Weather Reporter Emmy Victor tried out tacos with cicadas. (Emmy Victor)
For Marina Ballor Fiore, of Le Petite Café in Bloomington, a guest at the event, this event presented her with her first chance to try cicadas.
"I'm here today because I couldn't wait to try cicadas, and I have not been disappointed," Fiore told Victor. "They're absolutely delicious."
She added that the cicadas had been served sweet, spicy, mixed in a salad, sprinkled on a chunk of corn and dipped in chocolate.
Marina Ballor Fiore tried cicada for the first time and said she wasn't disappointed. (Emmy Victor)
"You got to try it. It's amazing, it's delicious, it's crunchy, it's better than any nut I've ever eaten before," Fiore said.
A handful of people have described the taste as earthy or nutty, and Jason Chen, a friend of the co-founders who was present at the event, has described cicadas as having a nutty, asparagus, egg yolk-like. For Jones, the taste lies at the crossroads of crawdad and asparagus. And apparently, cicadas also pair well with pork.
Among the foods on the menu was a Mexican-inspired taco that included pork shoulder, banana leaves and sour orange juice, which Jones added paired nicely with the earthy taste of cicada. While some may prefer their tacos without cicadas, Jones said that for some, it was a rare chance to try something new and represented the transitory nature of life.
Aaron Jones tells AccuWeather National Weather Reporter Emmy Victor what's on the menu at the All Creatures Yum! event. (Emmy Victor)
"After you see people eating cicadas, you hear them talk, 'You know what, am I going to live another 17 years to see this happen again? I don't know, I better enjoy this while I can,'" Jones said, adding that the event was like an eclipse happening.
"It's an adventure," Jones said, referring to trying the cicada dishes, "and it brings people together in an interesting way."
Chen told Victor that this wasn't their first time trying cicadas, and back in 2017, there had been another brood of cicadas that had emerged. Jones had pitched the idea to go out one night to collect a few.
"We cooked them up and I think this got the idea going in his head," Chen said.
Jason Chen and Aaron Jones collected cicadas back in 2017 before Brood X emerged. (Emmy Victor)
All Creatures Yum! is currently planning on holding another event in June, which will also include cicada meals and music. While there are other cicada broods to await the arrival of, some of the cookout guests are aware that this may be their last chance to have a Brood X meal for a while.
"It's wonderful," Fiore said. "It's great. I can't wait to have them again in 17 years."