The first time I bought a car, I experienced a dark night of the soul to such an unreasonable and flop sweaty degree that I called the dealership the next morning and asked if they’d take the car back.
Me: Hi, I’m wondering if you’ll take back the car I bought yesterday.
Lady at the dealership:
Me: I think I made a mistake with the car loan, is the thing. It just feels like a lot of money and I don’t make very much.
Lady at the dealership:
Me: I’m sure you understand.
Lady at the dealership: No.
I’m dredging up this memory now because the company from which I ordered the cricket powder is not letting me cancel. So, in much the same way that I kept the Grand Am, I can anticipate the arrival of a bag of cricket powder any day now and then … I will have a bag of cricket powder.
I blame the cicadas.
If you’re anything like me, you’re reading everything you can get your hands on about Brood X, the atypically large batch of 17-year cicadas set to emerge from a swath of ground between Indiana and Delaware beginning in May.
Generally, I find insects en masse to be tremendously upsetting, but I also can’t look away. It’s why every September I think I need to go down to southeastern Colorado to check out the hordes of male brown tarantulas (not insects, I know) looking for girlfriends, and why I always want to hear my Aunt Rita, who is a truck driver, describe the highway-engulfing swarms of crickets in Nevada.
It’s awful. But also, amazing. Regarding the cicadas, my internal conversation lately has been, “Eew. But also, wow.
“That one entomologist said we’re talking hundreds of BILLIONS of cicadas. So, holy cow. But also, eew. But probably I should road trip to Indiana to check it out. But what if one jumps on me? They’re so big. Eew.”
It was while I was refreshing my Google News search for Brood X that I was presented with a Newsweek story headlined “What to know about eating cicadas as trillions of bugs to emerge in U.S.”
Now, you would think that the thing to know about eating cicadas is: don’t. They’re bugs. Take them back outside and wash your hands with soap after.
But I’ve done enough research on insects for human consumption to know that they really can and should be an essential protein source. Heck, I’ve delivered incredibly smug and hypocritical monologues to that effect.
However, do you see me regularly chowing down on insects? You do not, because cultural taboo is a hard thing to overcome. Here in America, insects are things that inadvertently fly into my mouth when I’m riding my bike, and I cough and spit hard enough to detach my tongue and for the rest of the day I feel things crawling on my neck. That’s how insects generally end up in our mouths here.
I have eaten insects, though, and clearly didn’t die. It was an occasional occurrence when I lived in China, and because I wanted to be grateful and respectful, with a lotus blossom calm, I tried to greet the bug on a stick with a serene, “Xie xie! Hao chi! (Thank you! Delicious!)”
Meanwhile, inside my head: AAAAAIIIIIEEEEEEEEE! AHOOOOOGA! AHOOOOOGA! ABORT! ABORT! THAT’S A BUG!!!
But down the hatch it went. If I could have been rational and objective for even one second, I would have realized that it was merely a well-seasoned crunchy thing, not unlike thick-cut potato chips, assuming the potatoes had an exoskeleton and guts and were a nuisance that sometimes got in my house.
Sooooo, yeah … IS THAT EXOSKELETON STUCK IN MY MOLARS???? But shrimp have exoskeletons, and I love those, though I do peel them first. Should I peel the next insect I eat? AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!
It’s just, if you don’t grow up doing it, it’s hard to pivot to that degree, especially with something as profound and personal as nourishment. So, I promise I’m not judging the consumption of insects or the cultures in which it’s common, I’m just saying that in mine it’s not.
But I do think it should be, and I do think I should at least try, but I’ll tell you right now I am NOT inclined to munch on snack crickets. Hence the cricket powder. And there’s no going back now, because they won’t let me cancel.
Oh boy, though. Ohboyohboyohboy, am I actually going to put insect in my cookies??? Probably you shouldn’t accept any baked goods I offer you for the next little while.
Rachel Sauer is at firstname.lastname@example.org and will be hiding from the cricket powder for the next little while.