I was poking around on Facebook the other day and saw a conversation about eating Hornworms.
Now, I’m all for finding alternative means of garden pest disposal, since I don’t believe in using chemicals on my property. I usually do hand pick our hornworms and, on some occasions, have probably gotten enough for a nice hardy snack. Still, I doubt that I’ll ever be tempted to take a nibble out of my hornworms, any more than I’m tempted to eat crickets, grasshoppers, bees or any of the other bugs mentioned in The Eat A Bug Cookbook: 33 ways to cook grasshoppers, ants, water bugs, spiders, centipedes, and their kin, by David George Gordon (aka The Bug Chef).
Gordon says that eating protein rich bugs is good for you ("Crickets are loaded with calcium, and termites are rich in iron), and good for the earth ("Raising cows, pigs, and sheep is a tremendous waste of the planet's resources, but bug ranching is pretty benign").
Gordon collected info from bug-eating cultures around the world and includes information on how to cook each bug and which wine to drink with them. He even provides tips on how to catch your own insects – a great eco-friendly means of pest control!!
I think I’ll buy a copy of the book just so I can have it laying on my coffee table. It will certainly be…ahem…food for thought.
If you do decide to try any of the deep-fry recipes, just remember to can the grease when you are done. Putting grease down the drain can eventually mean clogs for you, potential backups into your basement and sewage overflows in the local sewer systems.
So please do your part by disposing of fats, oils and grease the proper way.
- Pour them into a can;
- let them cool;
- then throw the can into the trash.
- And keep the can covered so it doesn’t spill while you’re waiting to add more grease.
(If you are a WSSC customer, you can even get free lids to store your canned grease.)
By the way, while reading about the book I noticed that a local restaurant, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana on 7th Street in DC sells Chapulines: The legendary Oaxacan specialty of sautéed grasshoppers, shallots, tequila and guacamole for $5.00
Recipe for Fried Green Tomato Hornworms, printed with permission of the author, David George Gordon
What does a tomato hornworm taste like? Well, what would you taste like if you'd been stuffing yourself solely with tomato leaves for the better part of a month? Hornworms are ridiculously chlorophyll-rich. They taste great with just about any summer vegetable, but my favorite recipe draws inspiration from the cuisine of the Whistle Stop Cafe, that fictitious Alabama diner made famous by novelist Fanny Flagg.
"You'll think you died and gone to heaven," boasts Flagg of her recipe. To which I add, "If you do go to heaven, ask the Powers That Be to keep the tomato hornworms out of my vegetable patch."
3 tablespoons olive oil
16 tomato hornworms
4 medium green tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil. Then lightly fry the hornworms, about 4 minutes, taking care not to rupture the cuticles of each insect under high heat. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Season tomato rounds with salt and pepper, then coat with cornmeal on both sides.
In a large skillet, fry tomatoes until lightly browned on both sides
Top each round with 2 fried tomato hornworms.
Garnish the paired hornworms with a single basil leaf.
Yield: 4 servings