A small college town in my home state of Missouri has made a few ripples in the food world in the last 24 hours. They've been asked to shut down production of a rather unique ice cream flavor that is as unusual as they come. Although cicadas are the sound of summer for many, should the be the taste of it as well? Here's the story:
Imagine if you will you're the owner of a hip homemade ice cream shop in an average sized Midwest college town. The heat is busting through the roof and you have a steady stream of customers in which to try out a few new specialty flavors. Sure there's the old standby of chocolate and vanilla in the cooler, but you're looking for a way to flex those creative muscles — after all, odd flavor combos are the new black right?
So you start with a brown sugar and butter ice cream base and send your employees out back to pick up a few local ingredients. And by local we mean the trees outside the establishment and by ingredients we mean cicadas.
Not wanting to gross too many folks out you remove most the wings (leaving some for texture of course) and then toss them in a pot of boiling water (crazy ingredients good... raw ingredients bad). After tossing them with a little brown sugar you coat them with chocolate. After adding them to the ice cream you test out your product on a few customers and suddenly you end up selling out with people knocking on your door for more.
So what's the hold up? The health department. As they're unaware of the proper cooking temperature to determine doneness of these buzzing little creatures, they're unable to allow you to continue creating your buggy flavors. Forced to turn away folks from the new taste of the town you watch them walk away with just plain old chocolate.
Although the idea of eating cicadas might give some folks the wiggins (myself included), there's many an idea on how to cook them. For the most part they're boiled or roasted and eaten just like you would most shellfish. They can also be ground into powders and used as nut substitutes. It shouldn't have been that hard for the authorities to determine the logistics of them being safe to eat! So next time you're hungry and are looking for a summer flavor or maybe a Fear Factor-esque family night — try cicadas!