If you like to eat ants, crickets, bamboo caterpillars, silkworms and giant water beetles then you’ll definitely want to check out a restaurant called Insects in the Backyard in Bangkok. Yum.
Eating fried crickets and buttery silkworms is nothing new in Thailand, where street vendors have been serving up various forms of pests to hungry natives and adventurous tourists for years. But now the cuisine has gone mainstream. Just a few weeks ago, a well-known chef opened up the country’s first fine-dining establishment that specializes in insect delicacies.
“It’s a new thing,” Executive Chef Thitiwat Tantragarn, a veteran of some of Thailand’s top restaurants said in this ABC News report. “You live in the world, you need to learn the new thing.” Although Tantragarn has had lots of experience with pork and chicken, he believes that working with insects is a “a new world of cooking [and a] new lesson.”
Hey, have an open mind, okay? According to experts at the United Nations, insects are considered very nutritional, with many that are high in protein, good fats and minerals. They also have a lower environmental impact than traditional proteins and you know you just can’t beat that crunch.
The insect craze has its indirect effects too, spawning new investors and suppliers. One local insect wholesaler to the restaurant is literally salivating at the prospect of having a whole new market to serve.
“In Thailand, there is a long history of local populations, of people consuming insects and they continue to do, in large amounts. But it’s essentially as a snack, not a part of dishes, not a part of cuisine,” said Regan Suzuki Pairojmahakij, a Canadian partner at the eatery, in the ABC News report. “We are interested in moving people away from seeing insects from purely as a snack to be a part of a gourmet and a delicious cuisine.”
Advocates believe that, despite the shock value of the food, new restaurants will be able to create delicious and attractive dishes where insects are the main ingredient. And who knows — continued success in Thailand could mean opportunities for innovative restaurateurs here in the United States.