Would You Like a Cicada Salad? The Monstrous Little Noisemakers Descend on a New Orleans Menu 

Zach Lemann, curator of animal collections for the Audubon Insectarium, prepares cicadas for eating at the insectarium in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP)
Zach Lemann, curator of animal collections for the Audubon Insectarium, prepares cicadas for eating at the insectarium in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP)
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Would You Like a Cicada Salad? The Monstrous Little Noisemakers Descend on a New Orleans Menu 

Zach Lemann, curator of animal collections for the Audubon Insectarium, prepares cicadas for eating at the insectarium in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP)
Zach Lemann, curator of animal collections for the Audubon Insectarium, prepares cicadas for eating at the insectarium in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP)

As the nation prepares for trillions of red-eyed bugs known as periodical cicadas to emerge, it's worth noting that they're not just annoying, noisy pests — if prepared properly, they can also be tasty to eat.

Blocks away from such French Quarter fine-dining stalwarts as Antoine's and Brennan's, the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans has long served up an array of alternative, insect-based treats at its “Bug Appetit” cafe overlooking the Mississippi River. “Cinnamon Bug Crunch,” chili-fried waxworms, and crispy, cajun-spiced crickets are among the menu items.

Periodical cicadas stay buried for years, until they surface and take over a landscape. Depending on the variety, the emergence happens every 13 or 17 years. This year two groups are expected to emerge soon, averaging around 1 million per acre over hundreds of millions of acres across parts of 16 states in the Midwest and South.

They emerge when the ground warms to 64 degrees (17.8 degrees Celsius), which is happening earlier than it used to because of climate change, entomologists said. The bugs are brown at first but darken as they mature.

Recently, Zack Lemann, the Insectarium's curator of animal collections, has been working up cicada dishes that may become part of the menu. He donned a chef's smock this week to show a couple of them off, including a green salad with apple, almonds, blueberry vinaigrette — and roasted cicadas. Fried cicada nymphs were dressed on top with a warm mixture of creole mustard and soy sauce.

“I do dragonflies in a similar manner,” Lemann said as he used tweezers to plop nymphs into a container of flour before cooking them in hot oil.

Depending on the type and the way they are prepared, cooked cicadas taste similar to toasted seeds or nuts. The Insectarium isn't the first to promote the idea of eating them. Over the years, they have appeared on a smattering of menus and in cookbooks, including titles like “Cicada-Licious” from the University of Maryland in 2004.

“Every culture has things that they love to eat and, maybe, things that are taboo or things that people just sort of, wrinkle their nose and frown their brow at,” Lemann said. “And there’s no reason to do that with insects when you look at the nutritional value, their quality on the plate, how they taste, the environmental benefits of harvesting insects instead of dealing with livestock.”

Lemann has been working to make sure the Bug Appetit cafe has legal clearance to serve wild-caught cicadas while he works on lining up sources for the bugs. He expects this spring's unusual emergence of two huge broods of cicadas to heighten interest in insects in general, and in the Insectarium — even though the affected area doesn't include southeast Louisiana.

“I can’t imagine, given the fact that periodical cicadas are national news, that we won’t have guests both local and from outside New Orleans, asking us about that,” said Lemann. “Which is another reason I hope to have enough to serve it at least a few times to people.”



Culinary Arts Commission to Participate in 'Taste London' Exhibition in June

Culinary Arts Commission to Participate in 'Taste London' Exhibition in June
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Culinary Arts Commission to Participate in 'Taste London' Exhibition in June

Culinary Arts Commission to Participate in 'Taste London' Exhibition in June

The Saudi Culinary Arts Commission will participate in the 'Taste London' food festival and exhibition for the second consecutive time.
The event, scheduled from June 12 to 16 in London, will serve as a platform to showcase the rich and diverse culture of Saudi culinary arts globally and involve Saudi chefs in international forums.
The commission, a key partner in this international event, will present the unique flavours and traditions of Saudi Arabia under the slogan 'A Taste of Saudi Culture,' SPA reported.

Its national pavilion will be a hub of activity, featuring live cooking demonstrations of authentic Saudi dishes by talented Saudi chefs, a beverage maker's area showcasing the richness of Saudi drinks, and a product store promoting culinary arts books, packaged products such as dates, spices, and coffee cups, as well as handicrafts and souvenirs. A hospitality tent will serve renowned Saudi coffee and host engaging sessions for festival visitors.
The commission's participation in the Taste London exhibition for the second time is not only an opportunity for visitors of various nationalities to discover Saudi culinary arts and dishes but also a testament to Saudi culture's global reach and influence.
The goal is to provide an exceptional experience, allowing them to learn about Saudi culture through artisanal products, enhance the international status of Saudi food, and enable Saudi chefs to showcase their skills externally.
This participation also reflects the commission's unwavering commitment to promoting international cultural exchange as part of the goals of the National Strategy for Culture under the Kingdom's Vision 2030.