Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What do Cockroaches Taste Like? : BLECH

One of the questions I ask myself is, would I ever dare to eat a cockroach? After all, I've dined on crickets and chowed down on sago grubs and chestnut weevils with relish. Perhaps a roach, stir fried with extra virgin olive oil and dressed with a sprinkling of sea salt and black peppercorns, would go down easy? Nuh-uh. I remember watching a movie  - Papillon - where a starving prisoner eats a cockroach that wanders into his cell. I think about that particular scene quite a bit. If I were starving, would I eat a roach? ...

Actually, wait... YES I have accidentally eaten a cockroach before. In fact, I have also eaten cockroach poop (droppings / frass) before too.

How - you may wonder - the heck did I know it was roach and poop? Well, it's the taste. While the texture or 'bite' as you crunch down on a roach is not much different from that of a cricket (both have leathery tegmina or wings), a roach tastes AWFUL. Just AWFUL. Crickets taste like whatever they ate last. I know this because when making choc covered crickets, I would feed them organic apple a few days before 'processing', to clean out their guts. With their guts full of apple, they tasted sweet. Flavorful.

Not so for roaches. A roach tastes AWFUL. (I know I just said that.)

By the way, I absolutely must clarify here that those 'fried cockroaches' people brag about chomping down on in Thailand are NOT cockroaches. They are the Giant Water Bugs (Belostomatidae) and although they look similiar, do not taste half bad. Trust me, a taste of cockroach is one that is not ever forgotten. Why is this? It is because cockroaches have glands on their abdomen that ooze the super stinkiest pheromone ever known to mankind. These pheromones are powerful attractants to other cockroaches. Combine this with the fecal pellets, which are in themselves malodorous, and folks, you have a 'Winner'.

NOT a cockroach! These are Giant Water Bugs, a popular street-food snack in Thailand and neighboring countries

"Cockroaches taste the way they smell. That's the first time I ever came close to losing it" (Entomology professor Lynn Kimsey, UCLA Davis). Lynn, my sentiments exactly.

The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) wins hands down for worst smelling cockroach species. The Madagascar hissing cockroaches smell musty, and I imagine that's how they would taste. According to Entomophagy on Youtube, they taste musty. Cockroach species have varying degrees of stinkiness.

Sigh! I think I have just about creeped out myself for the day. I will have to tell y'all about my accidental cockroach ingestion another time.

Would you dare to eat a cockroach?