More commonly associated with biblical plagues and reviled for their tendency to munch through crops at an alarming rate, the locusts which have been swarming across Israel for the last few weeks are now finding the tables are turning – quite literally – and they're the ones on the menu.
Emboldened by the knowledge that locusts are considered kosher, some Israelis are catching, cooking and eating them. They've even found their way into some of the country's classier restaurants where a favourite way to serve them is to poach them in broth, roll them in coriander seeds, garlic and flour and deep fry them. Or use them in a nice locust risotto. Or saute them with caramel and sprinkle them onto puddings. They're particularly good with meringues, according to chef Moshe Basson, owner of Jerusalem's Eucalyptus restaurant.
"They taste something between sunflower seeds and baby shrimps," he says. "They actually don't taste like much. I like them, but they're desired not because they are delicious but because they are rare."
Not any more, they're not. The first millions-strong swarm of locusts entered Israel from Egypt in early March, closely monitored by the country's Ministry of Agriculture, and this week another swarm was spotted.
But where Israel leads, we may follow. London restaurant Wahaca already serves chilli-fried grasshoppers and, with 40 tonnes of insects to every human on earth, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation thinks this highly nutritious energy source could be the solution to the world's coming food crisis.
There is one aspect in which locusts will always outdo humans, . While they can eat their own bodyweight daily in food, we're never going to eat our bodyweight in them – not even if they're rolled in coriander seeds and deep fried in caramel.
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