Sunday, 26 May 2013

Tempura-battered tarantula on menu at California bug fest

By Dana Feldman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hungry? How about tempura-battered fried Tarantula for an appetizer? They're frozen then defrosted before bug chef David George Gordon cuts off the abdomen, singes off hairs with a lighter and dunks the remaining spider body into batter.

"You just have to brown it up for a couple of minutes. Then I add my secret ingredient, a pinch of smoked paprika for flavor. The best part are the legs," said Gordon, speaking at an insect cooking demonstration in Hollywood aimed at showcasing insects as a sustainable food.

Other treats being served up at the third annual Bug-A-Thon at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Hollywood on Friday include Scorpion Scaloppine and dishes consisting of the chef's choice bugs: grasshoppers, cockroaches and other savory surprises.

Considered the planet's most sustainable source of eco-friendly and inexpensive animal protein, the practice of eating insects is practiced globally by two-thirds of the world's population, said Andrea Silverman, the manager of Ripley's Hollywood, who said the demonstration aimed to spread the word about the nutritional value of bugs.

"The tarantula was great. It tasted like shrimp tempura. I also tried the grasshoppers. I ate the whole thing starting with the head! It tasted like pepper!" she said.

She added that nutrient-rich crickets provide three times the calcium and iron as beef, require hundreds of times less water to generate the same amount of protein as a cow, and reportedly taste like "nutty shrimp."

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