I like to eat practically anything. I like almost everything and I don't disgust any gastronomy in the world. In theory, because I think I would not get to taste insects. I don't know… You do? Insects are present in Chinese cuisine, not in all, but in the gastronomy of some regions in particular.
The Chinese are not very original in eating insects, that is, they are not the only ones. In addition, humans have been eating insects for thousands of years. Are you going to China? So let me tell myself that there insects are a delicacy for the palate.
In medical terms that it's called entomogafia. The human species has eaten insects for thousands of years, eggs, larvae and adult insects are counted in our diet since prehistoric times and in many cultures they still have their chapter in the kitchen.
Science knows about thousand species of insects that humans eat in 80% of the world's nations on all continents. While in some cultures it is common, in others it is forbidden or taboo and in others it is something not forbidden but quite disgusting.
What insects are edible? The list is long but there are many species of butterflies, termites, bees, wasps, cockroaches, grasshoppers, moths, crickets. Eating insects has its benefits and its disadvantages, there are benefits in terms of the environment and for our health as well, but everything requires care and hygiene.
Sometimes one may think that eating insects has to do with poverty, but it is an idea that has no basis. Let's think that India is a very poor country and yet its population is vegetarian, it does not eat insects. Did you know that the country that eats the most insects is Thailand? Yes, it has a 50 million dollar industry that revolves around bugs.
Chinese cuisine and insects
China is a very large country and it is divided into several geographical areas and each one has developed its own style of cooking based on the ingredients at hand. While southern cuisine relies more on rice, northern cuisine uses more wheat, just to give one example.
Luckily, if you don't disgust anything and you want to eat insects in China you can do it in Beijing itself, the capital city. It is not that eating insects is something from some distant region, lost in the mountains.
An ideal site for this is Wangfujing Night Market which is located in Dongcheng district. It is a street full of gastronomic and commercial stalls, one of the most famous in the city.
The part dedicated to the kitchen is the one on Wangfujing Street and it really is unique. It is divided into the night market and the street of aperitifs. In both the food is exposed to the customer and both are very popular with Chinese and tourists.
Most of the food is cooked on the grill, over a fire, or fried or steamed and in general you can choose the cooking method. There's chicken, veggies, mushrooms, lotus root, tofu, seafood, and nothing to scare… until you get to the bugs.
And there, without disgust, you will see insects strung on toothpicks. Bugs and more bugs and people who fill their mouths with them taking advantage of their nutrients, proteins and minerals. It is definitely difficult for us to eat insects, our culture tends to kill them so ...
I don't know, eat scorpions, silkworm pupae, parasites, fried centipedes, and spiders It can be the adventure of your gastronomic life. It's up to you. Those who have tried these things say they don't taste so bad, it's just that your brain plays the trick of telling you all the time that you're eating bugs ... gummy or crunchy, but bugs nonetheless.
But many Chinese love it. After all, the food is absolutely cultural. If you want to take a tour of this market, you can find it at the northern end of Wangfujing.
Not only in Beijing can you eat insects, in Kunming too. China is made up of more than fifty ethnic groups and although the Han is the vast majority, there are many others. The Jingpo ethnic group, for example, is famous for eating insects. If you are in Kunming, eat bugs has been said!
Here they eat fried grasshoppers, cicadas with legs and wings included, coconut larvae and some black bugs the size of a thumb. A recommended restaurant to indulge in insects is the Simao Yecai Guan. The menu has everything I just mentioned and boasts of selling more than 150 euros a day in insects.
Kunming is getting closer to Thailand every day in terms of insect gastronomy, as well as having restaurants and people eating insects in their homes. there are stores that specialize in different species and sell them fresh and frozen.
For example, you can buy Yunnan wasp larvae for between 23 and 38 euros per kilo and per year the market for this species alone moves about 320 thousand dollars. Nothing bad. And it continues to grow. There are about 200 insect farms in Qinyuan County, the largest insect farming base in China. and produces 400 metric tons per year.
The fact is that China is a country that has to feed a population whose last census, carried out in 2010, showed nothing more and nothing less than more than 1300 million inhabitants. And it continues to grow. So if insects can supply a bit of the demand for food, welcome.
Another interesting aspect is that some experts say that at the moment the country is not prepared to massively consume insects, even though the industry is kinder to the environment and would help the crisis. Why? Issues of hygiene safety.
China still has a way to go in this matter, it has to reach at least one food safety standard before promoting insects as food. We can't forget that some insects have toxins, pesticide residues, and bacteria and that cooking methods are sometimes not enough to eliminate these hazards.
Chinese cooks, those responsible for street stalls and restaurants, are not generally food safety educated people. They are of the opinion that if scorpions and maggot larvae are used in traditional Chinese medicine there is no problem in eating them. If they are cooked at a good temperature, that's enough.
The truth is that if nothing intimidates you and you want to eat bugs, China is a good destination because here they are delicacies for the palate. Enjoy your meal!