Cicada desserts: More than meets the (red, beady) eye

To anyone looking to sample a real cicada -- or "flying shrimp" as one Capital Weather Gang reader calls them -- don't look to Del Ray's Dairy Godmother. The shop is offering a specialty flavor May 31 through June 1 called cicada crunch, but it's not what you think.

(Kevin Ambrose)
(Kevin Ambrose)

If you ask employees at the store about the presence of cicadas in the kitchen, they might be vague and say something like, "I don’t know, but [owner Liz Davis] asked me to come in at 4 a.m. and bring a net."

But ask Davis, and she'll be straight with you: "It does not have real cicadas in it. I do not do that, it’s gross," she said.

From her perspective, it seems like the people who are most interested in eating real cicadas are food journalists, anyway. She says she's gotten several calls from media, all of whom have been disappointed when she's broken the news.

It would be hard to have real cicadas in her ice cream anyway, and not just because she hasn't even seen any yet.

"How many bugs would we have to catch?" she said.  "I’m not catching the bugs."

She picked the weekend of the 31st for the flavor because an exterminator tipped her off that it would be the most cicada-heavy weekend. If there are enough, she's considering filling a jar with exoskeletons and having customers guess how many are inside.

Courtesy of Sticky Fingers
Courtesy of Sticky Fingers

Other local bakeries and restaurants are putting similar fake cicada menu items -- heretofore referred to as "fauxcadas" -- on their menus. Sticky Fingers is offering a vegan cicada cupcake, and the Ritz Carlton has put a not-really-cicada cocktail on its menu.

So what's in this ice cream anyway? Without spoiling the surprise, it's crunchy and chocolatey, with orange sprinkles and red "eyes."

"I call these things the great secular holidays," Davis said.  "Things that are fun but not really holidays -- it makes something special about your year."

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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Alex Baldinger | May 24, 2013