Updated Charcuterie

I love charcuterie. At holiday parties. At office parties. At football-viewing parties. It’s like a mini buffet of tasty goodness.

Watch any Foot Network show and they’ll talk about the foods that typically go on a charcuterie board. They’ll encourage you to artfully arrange a variety cured meats, cheese, olives, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, jelly, or jam.

There are no rules with charcuterie… which is why I decided to add roasted crickets from Cricket Flours to my last board. It was a first for me, so I didn’t go nuts and sprinkle them all over the place … just added a simple ramekin full of crickets to the board. And I didn’t say anything. I just let my guests discover them on their own.

As with most new things, the crickets elicited mixed reviews. Many guests wouldn’t even try them. Of those who bravely sampled the crickets, some complained about the legs and antennae that not caught in their teeth. Others said they liked the crunch and flavor. A few turned for second and third helpings of crickets.

I’m not certain I’ll include crickets on every charcuterie board, but it truly was a fun way to shake things up. And, it got a few people to step outside their comfort zone … I don’t think that’s ever a bad thing.

Crickets – Sushi 2.0?

Fifty years ago, most Americans hadn’t even heard of sushi. In the 1970s, this was a country content with eating pot roast, fried chicken, and Hamburger Helper. Raw fish and seaweed? Well, you might as well have asked these poor people to eat crickets and grasshoppers.

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

It didn’t matter to these bell-bottom-wearing, super groovy, non-sushi eating Americans that more than 100 million people around the world were eating it. Sushi was different. Too different.

So, some really creative chefs started brainstorming ways they could get diners to try this cuisine. They started by making rolls featuring foods with which Americans were familiar. The California roll, made with cucumber, crab meat, avocado and rice, was a good first step for those daring enough to try sushi. Hmmm. Not bad.

Before long, Americans began sampling rolls made with eel, tuna and squid. Today, there are about 4,000 sushi restaurants located across the United States.

Could that same thing happen with edible insects? I think so.

But it’s not enough to tell Americans that 2 billion people around the world eat insects. As with sushi, entomophagy-minded entrepreneurs and chefs are going to have to start small. Get diners to try cookies or pizza dough made with cricket powder. With a little coaxing and some solid information about sustainability, they may step up to granola with mealworms or tacos made with grasshoppers. Eventually people will begin to think of insects as tasty nourishment and the ick-factor will disappear.

And who knows, maybe 50 years from now, grocery stores will stock cricket flour right next to the wheat flour and almond flour and cricket-centric restaurants will be commonplace.

Stranger things have happened.