when you’re tired of bacon and beer

Vincent M Holt published an excellent pamphlet in 1885 suggesting his readers look further afield than bacon and beer for delicious menu items

image found here

“What a pleasant change from the labourer’s unvarying meal of bread, lard, and bacon, or bread and lard without bacon, or bread without lard or bacon, would be a good dish of fried cockchafers or grasshoppers.

Fried grasshoppers found here

Cheese-mites, the grubs of a small fly, are freely eaten by many persons, whom I have often heard say “they are only cheese.” There is certainly some ground for this assertion; as these grubs live entirely upon cheese; but what would one of these epicures say if I served up to him a cabbage boiled with its own grubs? Yet my argument that “they are only cabbage” would be fully as good as his. As a matter of fact, I see every reason why cabbages should be thus served up, surrounded with a delicately flavoured fringe of the caterpillars which feed upon them.

Sushi caterpillar found here

At one time, insects being prescribed as remedies by village quacks and wise men made people, at any rate, familiar with the idea of swallowing them. Wood-lice, which conveniently roll themselves up into the semblance of black pills, were taken as an aperient; centipedes were an invaluable specific for jaundice; cockchafers for the plague; ladybirds for colic and measles.

Steelblue Ladybird found here

In Arabia, Persia, and parts of Africa there are regular locust shops where they are exposed for sale; and among the Moors they are highly valued, appearing in the menu at the best tables. Their method of cooking is to pluck off the head, wings, and legs, boil for half an hour, flavour with pepper and salt, and fry in butter. As I can myself bear witness, of which more hereafter, this recipe applied to our English grasshoppers renders that despised insect a truly tasty morsel.

cooked grasshopper found here

The Chinese, making use of “the worm, a thing that crept on the bare earth, then wrought a tomb and slept” as food, eat the chrysalids of the silkworms after the silk has been wound from off the cocoons. They fry them in butter or lard, add yolk of eggs, and season with pepper, salt, and vinegar.

male silkworm found here

Even Spiders have been relished as tid-bits, not only by uncivilized nations, but by Europeans of cultivation. For Reaumur tells of a young lady who was so fond of spiders that she never saw one without catching and eating it. Lalande, the French astronomer, had similar tastes; and Rosel speaks of a German who was in the habit of spreading spiders, like butter, upon his bread.

spider cupcakes found here

Wood-louse sauce is equal, if not distinctly superior to, shrimp sauce.The following is the recipe: Collect a quantity of the finest wood-lice to be found, and drop them into boiling water, which will kill them instantly, but not turn them red, as might be expected. At the same time put into a saucepan a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, a teaspoonful of flour, a small glass of water, a little milk, some pepper and salt, and place it on the stove. As soon as the sauce is thick, take it off and put in the wood-lice. This is an excellent sauce for fish. Try it.

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm  Comments (47)  
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47 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. unvarying meal of bread, lard, and bacon, or bread and lard without bacon, or bread without lard or bacon

    Sound like the start of a Monty Python sketch.

  2. There is one thing worse that these. LIMA BEANS yuk yuk yuk

  3. Glad you posted this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a restaurant and thought “this fish is okay, but what it really needs is some wood lice”.

    • It adds a dash of piquancy doesn’t it?

  4. “Ees good. Tas’e like cheeken!”
    How many times have I heard that!

    By the way, Nurse, did you eat huhu grubs when you were a kid?

    • No, I don’t recall seeing them in Dunedin

  5. It just goes to show what I’ve always known: anything tastes good sauteed in butter.

  6. no such thing as too much bacon and/or beer! keep the bugs, thanks!

    • How about bacon flavoured bugs?

  7. Bacon, beer, and butter. The triple-B that eventually leads to a triple B (as in bypass). And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    • I had mine in 2006. Ain’t exactly like having a little splinter taken out of your little finger.

  8. This has quite put me off the bacon and tomato sandwich I was happily munching. Eeeeeeu!

  9. On Saturday night I ate out at a place that served sloe, lovage, elderberries and nettle sauce. I don’t however think these can possibly compared with fried grasshoppers.

    • And what adventurous menu item did you select Mitzi?

  10. I’m already off bacon, but you’ve convinced me to give up bugs as well.

  11. Needing food, I was out shooting at the weekend – for pigeons mostly but trying for some rabbits too. They all make good eating, although I didn’t get many as I’m not that good a shot. So I thought I’d try for a few grasshoppers and woodlice – but when you’ve blasted at them with a 12 bore there doesn’t seem to be much left; do you think I’d be better using an airpistol?

    • I think you’d do better becoming a vegetarian

  12. Food items that only Bear Gryllis would love.

  13. A steady supply of fresh bug is one of the perks of being a motorcyclist.

  14. I don’t have a Butter Boy Robin but I have some Boy Butter.

  15. Really insects are the perfect protein. Low in calories and high in taste. Snack-o-riffic!

  16. Or if you still want bacon, Dennys has a bacon sundae now.

  17. That photo of “caterpillars” sure look like scorpions to me.

  18. Bugs, bacon (not the Kevin variety, except maybe if you like that particular variety) and beer. The stuff of super bowl legends.

  19. I’m sure I have eaten bugs in my day, but I draw the line at making them a gourmet item. As far as I am concerned they will enter my diet during the end of the world scenario when nothing else is available.

  20. I lived in London for many years but even though jellied eels were supposed to be one of the local delicacies I got queasy at the very thought of trying them.

  21. *om nom nom*
    Sorry… it’s probably rude of me to talk with my mouth full…
    *om nom nom*

  22. You had me at “bacon.”

  23. I’d try all this stuff….once anyway.

    The Chinese capacity to make a meal out of pretty much anything almost certainly developed from their long history of famine. In times of shortage, you ate what you could find…or you starved. I suspect those are the circumstances by which peanut butter came about.

  24. Delicious!

    Grasshopper Goulash
    20 GRASSHOPPERS chopped
    2 handfuls of moss
    6 owlets eyes
    3 cups of chicken blood
    2 grass snakes innards
    3 cups of maggots
    Fry the chopped grasshoppers with the owlets eyes and innards from the snakes. Once well cooked add the chicken
    blood. Simmer for 15 mins. Serve on a bed of pan fried maggots and garnish with the finely chopped moss.

    A large cup of Witches Tea goes well with this. Simply soak some elephants toe nails in the blood of 3 frogs for 3 weeks
    then strain and bottle!! Delicious!!!!
    from The Young Writer’s Club–The Witch’s Cookbook

  25. Insect food is the future I tells ya

  26. I’m going on a no-food diet.

  27. None of these things seem any more revolting to me than eating a cow.

  28. I think the stomach may be able to handle it… it’s only my mind i’m worried about

  29. “…when you’re tired of bacon and beer…”

    … then you’re tired of life.

  30. “Cockchafer”? Surely, that’s the favoured hand of a lonely young man.

  31. Well, look at that little silk worm with his adorable feather lashes.

  32. An excellent sauce for fish? Not sure if even fish would eat it…

  33. As a vegetarian, I’ll just stick with beer.

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