Sunday, March 6, 2011

Insect eaters guide to New Orleans

The Next few unrelated blogs are from a long lost floppy disc that I have found and resurrected. These stem back over ten years when I just began to explore the thousand word (give or take) word format. Please forgive the naiivete.
Po-boy Views
By Phil LaMancusa
An Insect Eaters Guide to New Orleans

“If you haven’t eaten ‘gator tail before, you’re in for a surprise. It’s so good, you’ll wanna lay down and scream!”
“Don’t change the subject”, I replied, “I said…. People all over the world eat insects.”
“Yeah, but in Looosiana, we just steps on ‘em!” Matter of factly, I was getting nowhere, with this subject, with my coffee companion slash culinary professional slash tall, cool drink of water.
“Okay, let me start again”……….I can be patient, I patiently told myself. “It may surprise you to know that in many foreign countries insects are eaten as part of a regular diet”……..I began.
"And that’s why they call ‘em that”. “Call them what?” “Foreign countries.” She said, I said, she replied. I was starting to get dizzy.
“Huh?” (I said)
It was now her turn to be patient, as she addressed me as though I had the intelligence of a box of rocks. “That’s why they call them "foreign" countries: only someone foreign would eat a bug!"
Well folks; that’s how it started, two consenting adults, speaking the same language over coffee, and as usual, one of them (me) gets intellectually cut off at the knees.
But I haven’t given up! I lay my case before you, Gentle Reader. (I stole that Gentle Reader thing).
Scorpions, Waterbugs, Dragonflies, Termites, Ants, Spiders, what we know as Stinkbugs, Water beetles, Crickets, Grasshoppers, Tarantulas, and a large variety of Grubs, Worms and Caterpillars, are in fact perfectly acceptable parts of daily diets around this old globe of ours. And we’re not talking isolated countries here. We’re talking countries with nuclear weapons, fashions and digital watches!
They’re served up (the insects not the watches) fried, sautéed, in casseroles, soups and stews as well as eaten (especially termites) fresh from wherever they happen to live.
Does this scare the insects? Not a bit. Does it scare me? Let me put it this way: I’m a reasonable man, against prejudice of any kind, especially culinary; however, the thought of crunching down on a deep-fried cicada throws me off my feed. Immature? Ignorant? Unenlightened? I hang my head in shame.
But, do I mind YOU eating insects? Not one bit. Just don’t try to kiss me until you use some Lavoris. No, really, insects contain a lot of protein, can be prepared a number of ways (are you listening Paul?) and as we all know, they do be plentiful in New Orleans!
I would like to interject here that none of my researches uncovered (?) cockroaches as delicacies, so they still don’t deserve respect. Thankya Lord!
Anyway, perhaps as a culinary Mecca, New Orleans can be at the forefront of the next undiscovered cuisine: Entomophagy.
Do I detect an amount of scoffing out there? Did you know that a lobster is cousin to a spider? And what about those little items we call Mudbugs? Ever wonder about Shrimp? What is so far fetched about a nice steaming dish of Grasshopper Ettoufee? Or, Fire Ant Gumbo? We can Join the dozens of other countries (foreign or not) that hold up their heads and floss that antenna from their teeth with no embarrassment. After all, as Jonathan Swift said in 1738 “ He was a bold man that first eat an oyster”. Think about THAT one!
Armed with my argument on paper, I returned to coffee the next day and confronted my companion. She read. She sipped her coffee, stretched those long legs, flashed her eyes a big blue “NO”, and she said quietly, slowly, almost venomously “I ain’t no bug sucker!” Then she brightened, and like a window opening to a cool coastal breeze said: “ “Now, Possum Gumbo, you ever had possum? Or Squirrel?……………”

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