Friday, August 21, 2009

Locust Tacos for Rosh Hashanah?

I've often wondered how one can tell the difference between a grasshopper and a locust. After doing some research tonight, I learned that locusts are a family of flying grasshoppers that change behaviors when they are crowded together--and this phenomenon is called swarming.

Locusts usually prefer to live alone, but sometimes a group of locusts will come together and form an enormous group; those that are on the verge of doing so have a massive increase of serotonin in their bodies that actually causes their bodies to change color! Typically they will change from green to brown while in swarming mode. The also eat and breed more rapidly while raging in these groups.

There is evidence that locusts will produce seratonin and go into their "gregarious" (swarming) phase if they become overcrowded and are jostled and tickled by their neighbors, so swarming may be an adaptation to overpopulation.

Another really nice thing about locusts is that four species are kosher for eatin' (with some restrictions). Now, I don't personally keep kosher, but my partner's family does, so I think it is my duty to prepare a tasty locust dish for them on the next holiday. I found some recipes compiled here on Jewlicious that sound nice. But here is the sweet mama of recipes, from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' Locust Watch:

Locust Taco from Fraser Lewry's Flickr stream.

"From Mexico: (1) Roast 40 locusts for 10 minutes at 180°, then remove the wings, legs and heads and toss with the juice of 1 lemon, 2 cloves of garlic and salt to taste. (2) Mash 2 avocados and spread on 6 tortillas. (3) Sprinkle with locust torsos and enjoy. Serves six. (adapted from a Mexican grasshopper dish from the pages of the excellent Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects, by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio)"

I'm all hungry now.


  1. That taco looks surprisingly yummy! I wonder if they sell grasshopper tacos with guacamole in TJ. I will find out. I bet they taste a little like crayfish and go well with dirty rice.

  2. It does look good! Those bits look like soft-shell crab tempura to me. I'm thinking of ditching vegetarianism to become an insectivore. I'm excited for 'hopper tacos in TJ!

  3. They do look good. But if you remove the wings, legs, and heads, you lose all the crunch, and throw away most of the protein. And then what do you do with millions of wings, legs, and heads? I don't like it.

  4. Well, I could make you a special wing, leg and head sprinkled cupcake. It would be sort of like the pantry beetle pie that Katy made for you.

  5. No busting on my pantry-weevil pie! You get loads of protein with my pies.

  6. Oh, pardon me, it was a weevil pie. How could I make a mistake like that and call it a beetle pie??