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October 21, 2017

Cicada soap and snacks

Filed under: Eating Cicadas,Folklore — Dan @ 8:54 am

I came across an article from 1876 in the Bossier Banner titled Edible Insects (The Bossier Banner., June 22, 1876. (Bellevue, Bossier Parish, La.)). The article covers many types of insects, but has at least five paragraphs devoted to cicadas. The article uses the term “locust” interchangeably with cicada, and the author does seem to know the difference (see last paragraph).

The most interesting bit of information is that people might have used cicadas to make soap and cakes.

I believe, in this paragraph, locust may refer to the grasshopper locust, but it could be cicadas as well:

Among the folk-lore of the Khoikhoi you may find this legend: “Faraway in the North-land dwells the great master-conjurer, who, when he wishes to confer a benefit on his people, rolls away a stone from the mouth of a certain deep pit and from it issues a host of winged messengers who soar away to the southward and there surrender themselves as a food to the hungry Africans.” These messengers are the famous locusts of which it is recorded that John the Baptist ate, and which are to-day sold by the cart-load in the cities of Morocco.

The “locust” in this paragraph is very likely cicadas, because of the use of the words “harmless” and “celebrated for its song”:

With how much affection the Romans spoke of the locust! “A little, harmless creature,” says one historian, “celebrated for its song from most ancient times.”

No reference to “locust” was made — definitely cicadas:

The same song was so dear to the Greeks, “because it seemed to give life to the solitude of our shady groves and academic walks, and conveys to our minds the idea of a perfectly happy being,” that they kept the insect in cages, and gave it pet names, as, “The Nightingale of the Nymphs,” “Sweet Prophet of Summer,” “The Love of the Muses.” Then, after all this lavishing of affection, they are it!

Could be either cicadas or grasshopper locusts:

Aristotle, with the smack of the lips, says of the female locusts, caught before the depositing of their eggs, and fried in sweet oil: “Quo tempore gustu suavissimo sunt”— “at which time they are very sweet.”

Sounds like it could be either:

Another naturalist says when the cicadae first leaves the earth they are plump and oily, and used in the making soap. Bread is also made of them, and in Africa a kind of sweet cake. This is probably what Shakespeare refers to when Iago, plotting against the Moor, says, in his wrath: “The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida” — the bitter apple of Crete.

This paragraph makes me think the author knows the difference between cicadas and grasshoppers:

These little, dew-sucking locusts are not to be confused with the strong-jawed grasshoppers, the Heupferde, or “hay-horses,” as Germans call them, and as Martin Luther translated the word from the Hebrew text, for, though used as food, it is the grasshopper that commits such depredations on the foliage.

Read/see the article on the Library of Congress website.

January 19, 2009

delicious cicadas

Filed under: Eating Cicadas — Dan @ 1:17 pm


delicious cicadas, originally uploaded by istolethetv.

Cicadas: it’s what’s for dinner!

March 3, 2007

Weird Meat: Cicadas in Jinan

Filed under: Eating Cicadas — Dan @ 12:48 pm

Weird Meat: Cicadas in Jinan. Weird Meat is a blog about non-Western food (no cows and chickens) like cicadas. Check it out.

So minutes later, we had a huge plate of fried bugs. I’d say about a hundred of these little bite-size insects were deep-fried crispy. Everyone liked them. Even my friend Boya from Texas, usually not as adventurous a diner, enjoyed them.

December 5, 2006

Are cicadas safe to eat? 🍲

Filed under: Eating Cicadas,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 4:01 am

Cicadas are well known bioaccumulators of mercury. If consuming mercury is a concern, you should not eat cicadas.

Dogs, cats, squirrels, fish and people can’t stop eating cicadas.
Are they crazy, or “crazy like a fox”? (Foxes will eat them too.)

Pets and other domesticated animals

People want to know: “is it safe for my pets to eat cicadas”. The truth is in most cases your pets will be fine if they eat a few cicadas, however you still need to be cautious and keep a close eye on your pets. Watch them for odd
behavior, and don’t let them gorge themselves. Be cautious: the Humane Society has warned Cicadas Dangerous to Pets.

Pet related concerns:

  1. Pets can choke on the rigid wings and other hard body parts of the cicadas.
  2. Pets will gorge themselves on cicadas, and possibly become ill and vomit.
  3. Pets who consume cicadas sprayed with copious amounts of pesticide can and will die.
  4. Pets might have an allergic reaction to the cicadas just as people do.

Pet related links:

  1. channelcincinnati.com: Cicadas Could Make Your Pets Sick

Bottom line: play it safe, and don’t let your pets eat cicadas if you can help it.

People:

Whether they’re curious or doing it for the shock value, people are eating cicadas. Asian peoples have eaten cicadas for centuries, and there arerecords of Native Americans eating cicadas. People joke that they’re Atkins friendly. I’ve heard they taste like asparagus, popcorn, minty shrimp, and piney shrimp — ummmm, pine.
A man in Bloomington Indiana had an allergic reaction to cicadas after eating 30. He was also allergic to seafood — both cicadas and shrimps are arthropods so this makes sense.

People related concerns:

  1. Cicadas are well known bioaccumulators of mercury.
  2. You could choke on their hard body parts.
  3. You could have an allergic reaction. If you’re allergic to seafood, don’t think about eating them.
  4. Do you really want to eat something that’s been marinating in lawn fertilizers,
    pesticides and other chemicals for the past 17 years?

People related links:

  1. National Geographic: National Geographic News :Low-Fat, High Protein Cicadas: New Health Snack
  2. Stephanie Bailey’s Internet insect cookbook has tips on how to prepare insects for human consumption!
  3. INSECTS FORMERLY USED AS FOOD BY INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA NORTH OF MEXICO.

Bottom line: You’re not a contestant on Fear Factor. Why eat cicadas when you can choose from many of the fine menu choices at Applebees?

If you must cook or eat cicadas, why not wear a Cicada Chef apron?
cicada chef

Fish, squirrels and everything else

If it has a mouth, or some other part to digest cicadas, it will try to
eat them. Cicadas make great fish bait. Squirrels (yes, they’re nuts for cicadas too),
birds, possums, raccoons, foxes, other insects, fungi… they all love cicadas.

Wildlife related links:

Bottom line: let nature do the dirty work and clean your yard one bite
at a time.

Tom eats a cicada
Tom: Cicada Gormandize.


October 25, 2005

UC Engineering Researchers Find Mercury In Cicadas

Filed under: Cicada Anatomy,Eating Cicadas,Magicicada — Dan @ 5:43 am

I came across this article thanks to Google’s news alerts: UC Engineering Researchers Find Mercury In Cicadas. I’ve never eaten a cicada and I don’t plan on doing so in the future, but a lot of “cicada maniacs” do, so here’s your PSA.

Think twice before you eat one of Cincinnati’s Brood-X cicadas. That’s the warning from researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering, who have found surprising levels of mercury in these insects.

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