Bug Chef to cook up insects at Port Townsend Farmers Market
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As a matter of fact, author and naturalist David George Gordon, aka the Bug Chef, cooks them.
Gordon, a former Port Townsend resident now living in Seattle, will talk about the gastronomic delights of invertebrates as he whips up a selection of tasty insects and gives free samples at the Port Townsend Farmers Market on Saturday.
“For people who want a free lunch, this is a great way to go,” Gordon said.
“Nobody walks away hungry from one of my cooking demos,” he added, “and I know there is a double meaning there.”
The market is conducted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tyler Street between Laurence and Clay streets each Saturday, but Gordon will appear there from noon to 2 p.m., with the cooking demonstrations largely in the first hour from noon to 1 p.m.
The menu, Gordon said Friday, probably will be scorpion scallopini, tempera battered tarantula spider — which will serve eight if each has a leg — and either crickets in orzo pasta or wasabi-glazed wax worms.
Gordon, 62, said that his favorite bugs are wax worms.
Wax worms are moth caterpillars that eat wax from beehives and are considered pests in hives, according to Gordon.
But, since the worms eat honey and wax, in culinary concoctions, “they taste almost like a grape,” Gordon said, or, when baked “they taste like pistachio nuts.”
Gordon has appeared on the “Today Show,” and has cooked bugs for the Smithsonian, said Will O'Donnell, director and market manager for the Jefferson County Farmers Markets.
Gordon has been profiled in Time magazine and the Wall Street Journal, O'Donnell said.
He is the author of 19 books. Some are children's books, he said, and most are nature books, such as The Secret Life of Slugs and Snails: Life in the Very Slow Lane published in 2010.
But — as a leader in the growing field of entomophagy, or the practice of eating bugs, and cooking them, too — he also has written The Compleat Cockroach, which includes using them as food, and the 1998 Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, an updated version of which is to be released this spring.
He doesn't eat bugs every day, Gordon said Friday, speaking from his Seattle home.
“I don't, generally speaking, wake up in the morning and have a bowl of crickets,” Gordon said.
But he has been experimenting with recipes as he updates the Eat-a-Bug Cookbook and he does bug-cooking demonstrations all over the nation.
“I'm eating bugs several times a month during cooking demonstrations,” he said.
Wasabi-glazed wax worms are a new recipe, tested for the update of his book “and they were quite delicious,” he said.
He wrote the Eat-a-Bug Cookbook while living in Port Townsend and many of the recipes were taste-tested by his North Olympic Peninsula friends, he said.
That was after writing his book about cockroaches, Gordon said.
“It had a section in there as cockroaches as food and as medicine because people do eat them in other parts of the world,” Gordon said.
He found information in scientific journals about cultures that routinely eat bugs.
“I wanted to write something more accessible to plain old folks,” he said.
Those who want to experiment with cooking and eating bugs are better-served by buying the raw material from pet stores or bait shops, Gordon advised.
“The thing about harvesting from your garden is, on one hand, it's a great way of getting rid of pests without using pesticides,” Gordon said, “but [on the other hand] if you are using pesticides, or your neighbor is, and the bugs are eating them, it's the same as if you were eating them.”
He suggests that those who want to harvest bugs, do so in wild areas.
Or “you can buy bugs,” he said. “Pet stores have crickets and meal worms,” for instance, he said.
From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Gordon will spend more time in what he deems “the slow lane,” the world of slugs and snails, a familiar creature to Northwest gardeners.
Gordon will explain how to differentiate the helpful native slug and snails species from the less-than-helpful non-natives that eat gardens spring — and give tips on how to manage them.
And yes, this includes eating them, but mostly that technique will apply to Helix Aspersa, Port Townsend's non-native French escargot snail.
Gordon will describe how you can cultivate them yourself, as the Romans did.
Last modified: August 05. 2012 6:15PM