Much of the country is being overtaken by hordes of alien-esque creatures this summer, from roads to gardens and everywhere in between. These flying insects have reemerged after 17 years and are wreaking havoc wherever they can, delaying a White House press flight and even causing a car crash. While some Americans are disgusted, others have taken the opportunity to try a new food group, creating a number of cicada recipes.
Brood X, or the Great Eastern Brood of periodical cicadas, have taken to the skies and the trees throughout May and June, communing in groups of thousands or even millions. The 17-year cicadas can be found in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
There are varying opinions on the strange little insects. I personally think them to be ugly and weird in a cute way, like a pug. However, many find their red eyes and translucent wings unsettling. Along with their strange appearance, the exoskeletons they leave on trees after molting are far from typical home decor.
After spending 13 to 17 years maturing underground, cicadas come out of the ground in their baby form, called nymphs. Once they molt, the insects' exoskeletons harden and they join their brethren in the trees above. This is when the males begin their loud, distinctive mating calls that so many of us associate them with.
Some see the multitude of insects as a disturbance or infestation, but others view the crunchy bugs as a new food source. 2004 was the last time Brood X cicadas emerged across the country, and prior to their arrival, a University of Maryland graduate student wrote an entire cookbook of cicada recipes.
The student, Jenna Jadin, titled her book Cicada-licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas. Her goal was to make the cicadas less disturbing and scary to the general public. "When you can pluck something off the ground and eat it, it's a little bit less terrifying," she explained.
Jadin's cookbook has a range of recipes, from cicada tacos to "Chocolate Chip Trillers." Jadin especially loves the pecan tartlets, which she sometimes makes into entire pecan-cicada pies. She feels that eating cicadas usually goes best when cooked with flavorful ingredients to mask their bitter taste. Despite the bitter flavor, they add a deliciously crispy texture to any dish.
Try For Yourself! (If You Dare)
The FDA issued a disclaimer that those with shellfish allergies should refrain from eating cicadas, as they're related to shellfish. However, anyone else is welcome to try adding these edible insects into their diet as an unconventional source of protein!
Does anyone have any good cicada based recipes? Those bastards carried my cat away yesterday and I want revenge.
— Daily Cicada Updates (@DailyPollen) June 18, 2021
One of the more popular cicada dishes is the El Chirper Taco, which involves butter, newly-emerged cicadas, chiles, veggies, sea salt, and taco seasoning. To cook the insects, saute them on medium-high heat for about ten minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Then, chop them into cubes, and cook them for another few minutes with the veggies and seasoning. Serve fresh in taco shells and garnish with your favorite taco toppings.
For any adventurous eaters with a sweet tooth, the chocolate-chip trillers are also known to be delectable. These cicada cookies contain butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, chocolate chips, nuts, all-purpose flour and dry-roasted cicadas. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and bake at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes, just like you would with regular chocolate chip cookies. Enjoy your new food group!