Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Locusts Everywhere, Including on Your Dinner Table


Locusts...they're everywhere in Egypt, heading for Israel, and they're all over the media. Swarms of 30 million of the little critters munched their way through Egypt last week and some have already invaded parts of Israel. While farmers are concerned about the damage that the insects can inflict on their crops, some gourmets and lovers of exotic foods are eagerly awaiting their arrival on their dinner plates.

Moshe Basson, chef and owner of the Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem, has long been preparing locusts as a crispy delicacy. Surprisingly, locusts are kosher, and were featured three years ago as the dessert for a Mesorah Dinner, an eighteen-course feast that featured unusual dishes that, despite all appearances and tastes, were actually kosher. They included udder of cow, which tastes like meat in milk, an otherwise forbidden food, and the shibuta, a fish that tastes like pork. But the piece de resistance was a plate of fried locusts.

Last week, writing in The Media Line, Linda Gradstein reported:
This week’s invasion of locusts from Egypt offers adventurous home cooks an opportunity to try something new for dinner this week – locusts, which most rabbis say are kosher, can be prepared many different ways.
“You can sauté them like shrimp with garlic, baby cherry tomatoes, lemon and saffron,” Moshe Basson, owner and chef of the Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem, which specializes in Biblical foods, told The Media Line. “You can make them like french fries, or you can poach them like lobster, roll them in egg yolk, chickpea flour and spices and them deep fry them.”
About seven insects constitute a main course, Basson says. They are high in protein and low in calories. He says that similar to shrimp, to prepare locusts you take off the head and the small wings. The legs are the tastiest part, he contends. Basson himself says that in the past few days he has gotten a good supply of the insects from friends who have gone down to southern Israel to bring him back bags full. Gathering locusts is easy, he says.
“In the evening just before sunset when the temperature drops the locusts find a place and go to sleep on trees and bushes everywhere—you have just to pick them,” Basson, who often picks his own spices in the hills around Jerusalem, said. “In the morning when the weather warms up they will start to eat and within an hour they can turn a field from green to brown by eating all of it.”
In Israel, the swarms of locusts – the most seen since 2005, have not been welcomed by farmers who fear extensive crop damage. Drivers caught in the swarms are also not fans. But for some epicureans, locust offers an opportunity for free, sustainable eating.
We don't often repeat videos in Jewish Humor Central, but since we posted a video of eating locusts in our story about the Mesorah Dinner in 2010, when we had very few readers, we thought you'd like to see a locust eater in action now. Here are two videos, the first a current news report about the swarms hitting Egypt and then the 2010 clip of the feast in Jerusalem.

Enjoy!


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