Salty Snacks

A couple weeks ago, I met my friends Natasha and Farnsworth at a Mexican restaurant for dinner. While I debated between a margarita or Negra Modelo, I heard Natasha say, “Ohmigod – did you see these appetizers?”


“This says it has grasshoppers in it!”

“What? Where? Ohmigod – we’re totally ordering that!”

Farnsworth was all for it, but Nat was less than enthusiastic. She called over the waiter to clarify if they really meant to say grasshoppers, or if it was perhaps a bad translation. Indeed, they meant grasshoppers.

“They’re very good. Crunchy, salty! You put some guacamole on them… very good!”

Since crunchy and salty are my two favorite food groups, I was immediately sold. When the appetizer arrived, it looked innocuous enough – just a flour tortilla folded in half, with some guacamole and salsa on the side. I was actually a bit disappointed, since this was hardly the exotic dish I was imagining.

But then I decided to add some guacamole like the waiter suggested, so I opened up the tortilla and for a moment, stared in disbelief at what was simply a giant pile of curled up dead bugs inside a tortilla. Nothing else. No cheese, no lettuce, nothing to disguise the fact that these were bugs we were about to eat.

I looked over at Natasha, and she just sat there shaking her head. I didn’t want to seem repulsed by the idea of eating bugs, even though that is entirely the appropriate reaction, so I grabbed one and handed it to Nat, then took another for myself, and Farnsworth selected one of his own as well.

“We have to eat one plain, first.”

I popped the bug into my mouth and was immediately surprised by how salty it was. It tasted kind of burnt, very crunchy, and overall, not bad. Aside from the legs. And the head. And the antennae.

Natasha made a slight grimace as she tossed her grasshopper into her mouth, chewed very quickly, and washed it down with a big sip of margarita.

“Hey! These grasshoppers are kind of good,” I said.

Nat raised her eyebrows, “Okay, I don’t think I’d go that far. And let’s be clear on something – grasshoppers, my ass. These are crickets. Crickets they probably caught behind the restaurant a couple hours ago. Or they got them from the snake food department at Petco.”
An inexperienced bug-eater might think, cricket, grasshopper… what’s the difference?

But as I looked down at the open tortilla filled with brownish black bugs, I realized that Nat was right. These were absolutely not grasshoppers, and most definitely crickets, as evidenced by their striking resemblance to cockroaches.

And she was also right about their country of origin. No way were these free-range Mexican grasshoppers. We were staring at a plateful of street crickets that were probably caught in the back alley using a net made out of some old pantyhose.

But crickets or not, we had paid $10 for some sort of bug taco, and damned if we weren’t going to eat it. I quickly folded the tortilla back over the bed of insects, and slathered some guacamole and salsa over the top. We cut it into three pieces, and quickly ate them.
Farnsworth was completely unfazed by the experience, and was actually disappointed when the waiter said they were all out of some worm appetizer they had on their specials menu.

The following week, Nat called me at work to tell me about an episode of Survivor Man she had just seen.

“So they drop him off in the middle of nowhere, and by the third day he’s totally starving because he only has a granola bar left.”
“Mmm hmm…” I said, as I tried to multi-task and update some PowerPoint slides.

“And then he finds a big grasshopper and gets all excited about having some protein. So then you know how he prepares them?”

“In a tortilla?”

“Nope. He twists the head and slowly pulls it off so it takes the whole stomach with it. Then he puts them on a stick and roasts them. Know why he roasts them?”

“Uh uh.”

“BECAUSE GRASSHOPPERS CARRY TAPEWORM! They have tapeworm, Jenny. Are you happy now? Are you satisfied? Now we’re all going to get tapeworm because you just HAD to have bug tacos.

“Guess it’s a good thing we were eating crickets, then, isn’t it?”


“Look, Nat. Your theme for 2009 is courage – you said so yourself. This was just a good opportunity for you to overcome your fear of eating giant piles of bugs. And my theme for the year is discovery, so I got to discover something new, too. We all win.”

“So basically what you’re telling me is that for all of 2009, you get to discover disgusting things that I have to be courageous enough to eat?”


“2010 can’t get here soon enough.”
As a side note, I just took this quiz below and, although there wasn’t a question relating to grasshopper consumption, I’m still not entirely thrilled with these odds. I guess as long as I keep up with my annual tapeworm shots and weekly self-exams, I should be fine.
What are your chances of getting a tapeworm?
[via Neatorama]

17 Responses to “Salty Snacks”

  1. Dave2 Says:

    That’s awesome, because I hear that tapeworms are delicious!
    I’ve never been more sad that I’m a vegetarian.

  2. Dave2 Says:

    And by “sad” I mean “relieved.”

  3. kat Says:

    50%. Guess I’d better lay off the mooing cow.

  4. Fiorello La Guardia Says:

    What a great laugh to start my day! It was worth the wait for this one, Jen.!
    “Free range Mexican grasshoppers…” Where do you come up with this stuff?

  5. delmer Says:

    Raising grasshoppers and/or crickets might be a nice addition to the farming life you’re working at setting up.

  6. Finn Says:

    Oh hell no… why do they have to leave the heads and legs on these things. I can’t even eat shrimp unless they’ve been completely stripped of anything that makes them look like they were ever alive.
    You are a brave, brave woman!

  7. Don Says:

    Thank you so much. Now I have a psychosomatic tummy ache and a 26% chance of getting a tapeworm. Did you know in 1854 a physician invented a “tapeworm trap” that he used to pull a fifty foot tapeworm out the victim’s throat?

  8. derfina Says:

    Note to self: tag this blog as another to NOT visit whilst flu-ish.

  9. shari Says:

    I’ve always thought tapeworm would really help with weight management, and advised several former personal training clients to see what they could do about getting one.
    (I’m great at those meetings where we say stuff about how creative, outside-the-box, and inventive we problem-solving “can-do” employees are. I do have a B.S. degree afterall.)

  10. brandon Says:

    This happens in Sri Lanka all the time. You order a grasshopper burrito, but when you look inside it’s really a pile of dead cricketers.

  11. lizriz Says:

    I totally couldn’t do it. I am in awe of all of you!

  12. churlita Says:

    I used to date a guy who ate live grasshoppers. It was his favorite party trick…We lived in California where it was warm all the time.
    Maybe I could get me some of that tape worm. I have a Winter pelt to get rid of.

  13. claire Says:

    I’m not even going to look at the quiz.
    In future when I’m choosing yearly themes, I will remember that they can be used against me. “Begin anyway” would surely translate to “eat up” in your eyes.

  14. jenny Says:

    dave2: as a vegetarian, you probably only have 4% chance of getting a tapeworm. but i get to eat meat, so i guess we’re even.
    kat: 50%?!?!? yow! fess up… was it handwashing or rats?
    fiorello: cricket tacos just sort of find me. i swear, i don’t go looking for them!
    delmer: you know, that’s actually a pretty good idea! someone needs to supply all the mexican restaurants in chicago – why not me?
    finn: after being all badass and demanding that we order it, there was no way i could back down. it was a bit more than i had bargained for…
    don: that is so awesome! i had always heard they had to starve the patient, and then hold food near his mouth so the worm would crawl up his throat. soooo nasty!
    derfina: oops… sorry! :)
    shari: does the tapeworm poop in your stomach, though? because if so, then forget about it.
    brandon: look what you did there! you got all topical on my ass!
    lizriz: LOL – not sure i’ll be ordering another one…
    churlita: i can’t believe you let that guy get away – seems like a real keeper!
    claire: yes, i could have a lot of fun with a “begin anyway” theme.

  15. vahid Says:

    You know, I bet there’s plenty of new foods in New Mexico for you to discover and for Natasha to eat. This trip just got a whole lot more exciting.

  16. eric Says:

    hmmm… self-exam for tapeworm? i don’t think i wanna know.
    if i was being coerced into eating bugs, i think i’d try to pop off the head and legs before crunching down… but regardless, alcohol might be a prerequisite.

  17. jewelz916 Says:

    Okay….this is just plain gross. Grasshoppers???? It it was meant to be eaten, they would sell them at the grocery store. I have never seen grasshoppers in the food section.
    When I was a little girl, my dad ordered Grasshopper Pie and convinced me that it was made of grasshoppers. Obviously, as an adult I now know that to be a flat out lie and that I missed out on an opportunity to try Creme de Menthe at a young age. However…you’re an adult…and you knew they were real…and you STILL chose to eat them! EEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!!!!!