|I have small hands and all
Growing up in Britain as a Burmese child was weird in a lot of ways.
One of these was that my diet was entirely Burmese at home. I didn't really cook or shop for food for myself till I was at college, so I genuinely never realised for example that asparagus made your wee smell (in fact, I used to think that there was something up with my future in-laws' plumbing, since their house was the only place I ate the stuff).
|A plate of fried crickets in Burma
And I didn't know that avocados could be savoury as I'd only had them in milkshakes and ice cream, and I only got to eat fish and chips from a bag when there was a power cut. I had my first McDonalds when I was 12 - and yet I had my first cricket when I was 8.
Crickets - those chirpy little beggars with too many legs and antennae. Known as payit in Burma, and sold on the streets of Mandalay and Yangon in huge bamboo trays, they were meaty and crunchy and incredibly delicious, fried in lashings of garlic, ginger and salt.
I knew that they weren't your usual snack - even I wasn't that dense - but, as the bugs were introduced to me at such a young age, I had no qualms at all at tucking in (and I'm still just as adventurous).
|Cricket seller in Burma
So I was amused to see that Rentokil (yes, them) is running a one day pop-up restaurant at One New Change in London tomorrow from 10.30 am, exhorting people to try "BBQ grasshoppers and chocolate dipped bugs" amongst other things. There's no charge for the food either.
The Pestaurant (sic) has been billed as "exotic", which I guess is unsurprising as a large number of people in the UK still seems to think chicken on the bone is foreign, but if I was free during the day tomorrow, I'd obviously be there like a shot.
If you're also intrigued by edible insects (they're a future food, after all) and you can't make it down there either, I have two suggestions for you:
- Visit Archipelago, the other bastion of edible creepy crawlies;
- Go online to Sous Chef and buy some bugs for yourself.
Now, Sous Chef is my new favourite website, supplying hard-to-find ingredients to the home chef - and amongst all the other culinary wonder, they've just started stocking fried grasshoppers called chapulines from Oaxaca, Mexico.
|Wooden Tortoise is unimpressed
Of course, I couldn't resist ordering a pack. When they arrived though, I was a bit startled to find how tiny they were.
It's not just that the bugs were bigger because I was a wee lass - just look at the size of our Burmese crickets.
|This is a normal sized man selling the crickets
Anyway, I shared the pack with my brother and my father, who agreed with me that, although fresh-fried crickets in Burma are the cricket connoisseur's choice, these Mexican grasshoppers weren't bad at all.
Fried in chilli and lemon, perhaps they're a little sour to eat by themselves, but I can see that ground up they'd make a lovely garnish to a salad (or the suggested fajitas) - rather like a more savoury sumac.
And of course you can also use them to freak other people out, like I did my nephew, though the niece was quite keen - she obviously takes after me.
|I don't like crickets (I love them)