Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"They Actually Eat That:" Silkworms.

It's official: China (with trade partners in Korea) is the king of strange food. Sure, everything in America is processed to hell, but they have zombie jellyfish salad. Nothing says "we're willing to turn ANYTHING into food" quite like zombie jellyfish salad. (Disclaimer: I've had jellyfish salad. It was interesting.)  Silkworms have also got to be pretty high on the list of creepy foods for most people.

The world's only domesticated moth has been caught by China's habit of eating anything that so much as twitches. These little silkworms are sold at night markets as fast food and in supermarkets boiled and canned. They can be found roasted, fried, or just boiled. Hey, want worms with that?

Actually, this is one of the more practical, yet still weird, things China eats. After silk is made, there are a lot of half-metamorphosed larvae left to deal with. The silk-making process requires that one boils the cocoons anyways; half of the cooking is done to make qipao and other lovely silk items regardless of whether the boiled insects were eaten or not. May as well make use of those bodies!

So, what does silkworm taste like? Most foreigners mention the strange smell before the taste, but after they pluck up the courage to put one in their mouths, the insects are tolerable. One person visiting Shanghai described the taste as being similar to lobster brain. I have also seen someone saying they'd be "better with a little crunch to them. " It's probably an acquired taste; once you can stomach the little buggers, they really aren't that bad. Should you be in China or Korea, give silkworm a try.

Why eat the worms? Why not eat them? Insects are little sacks of protein, and these particular sacks are farmed en masse anyways. Bon appetit!

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