Eating insects in Beijing

I call my local guide on the third evening in Beijing. I feel like exploring and he suggests Donghuamen night market located in the northern end of Wangfujing. He is a jolly chap in his 20’s. I had bumped into him on my first evening in a restaurant along Jonguancun Avenue. Sometimes this Karma thing is true…how else do you explain walking into a restaurant and the first thing you see is a guy in a checked shirt, eating a mix of potatoes, beans, chicken, peas, cabbage and rice in a gallon of thick brown broth? The menu immediately sells him out and I salute “mundu wa nyumba”. Opposite him is his friend in another checked shirt eating all those constituents in a gallon of thick brown broth. I must say I didn’t have to pay for my dinner that day…i was home away from home! That’s how I met Denoo my guide…he became the go-to guy. He happens to be a graduate student from Kenya on a UCAS scholarship! God bless China!

It’s easy to confuse the place for your typical food market. The place is always jammed with locals and tourists eating, chewing half mouth, chewing full mouth, talking, taking photos, others amazed by the mass and variety of food in just one 200-meter-long food street landmark. The food stalls are steaming with fresh food. As I get closer to one of them, I noticed that the food was not your typical type. It’s Chinese cuisine mostly. It is a hot spot for daring foodies giving more than what I expected or even bargained for. I realized that my taste buds might never forget this culinary experience.

Donghuamen market

So there I was, standing in this small alleyway, an array of unnerving food in front of me, and I had to pick some for dinner. It took me a while I can tell you. I saw it, smelled it, walked past it once, walked past again, clicked away on my new Chinese branded phone though they didn’t quite like the clicking.  I was enthralled. I had harvested, cooked and eaten insects before but I didn’t expect to see the options I had before me. My options were many: cicadas, sea stars, and sea horses, locusts, silk worms, snake, lizard, centipedes, frogs all on a stick!

Well, I was hungry and I was here to experience some new flavors. My first choice went to locusts on a skewer. They didn’t look too bad. Not too adventurous I know but it was a beginning. We eat them where I come from after all. I could go with eating the Cricket as well. I farm millions of those and chew five toasted ones every morning. The snake was alright, the flesh smelled between chicken and octopus. It was not bad, quite flavorful actually. Now, this is when it got interesting! One display got my attention. Scorpions on skewers! When I asked the man behind the counter if they were fresh, he pulled out a bucket from under the table, a big smile on his face. Tens of these little guys were crawling all over.

Crickets on skewers

I hold the bragging right to being entomophagous in the South of Sahara; a daring edible insect’s enthusiast but NO. Scorpions wouldn’t do not matter what the vendor says. Not even if the vendor told me that frying the scorpions neutralizes their poison and their tail ironically is the most nutritious part rich with omega 3 fats. No! My mind was working 150%, trying to find a good reason to swallow a seahorse on a stick.

Well, I was here for adventure. I settled for sea horse and scorpion after writing my will and safely depositing it with my now legal guide, Denoo. I opened my mouth, and took a good bite. Most were crunchy and tasted a bit like fried chicken and roasted nuts. The rest went down very quickly! Denoo kept wondering what kind of curse had come upon me. He thought I should be taking photos. Only. I came to see not eat. One day he will understand…maybe he will.

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52 thoughts on “Eating insects in Beijing

    1. By the way…did you ever go back to the market and try the scorpion? It has this euphoric feeling of kuwa mnoma kama scorpion

    1. haha…i wanted kuwa mkali kama scorpion. it reminds me of those days we used to feed our village dogs live wasps…ati ndio zikuwe kali!

  1. Great read, at least the fact that am reading this is a testament that you survived to tell the story. Great work with insects research though.

  2. I bet this needs an expert to work on them well by removing unwanted parts before cooking and consuming or Iam I mistaken?

    1. good thing is, you can consume a whole insect without removing any parts. So chew the whole cricket with no worries. Read this post to see what i mean

  3. I’m very amazed with variety of insects eaten in Beijing. Us in Africa especially Kenyans we really appreciates smaller percentage of these wild insects eating including termites, ants and grasshoppers. The consumption of these insects is consumed based on the culture and the sites they are found. Example, termites is much eaten by Kalenjins, which they gather during the wettest season of the year. Luyha’s and Kisii consume white ants while the Lou’s consumes grasshoppers as their delicious insects and are mainly found in western part of Kenya. That is, Homabay, Migori, Siaya, Kisii and Kakamega. Vernacularly known as chiswua. I guess kikuyus have no ideas over the consumption of these insects since they are hardly found in central part of Kenya.
    Though many varieties of insects mention on the menu are found here in Kenya, less efforts is applied in appreciating them as potential source of food which can be farmed and used as food. I personally I appreciate insect eating since I come from these natural zones part of western Kenya where snakes, snails, crickets, crabs, scorpions, termites, black ants are in plenty provided naturally, no farming of them is done, though nothing is done on them in terms of meat neither research.
    It is ironical that African suffer from malnutrition yet there is broad spectrum of varieties of edible insects lying out there which many local cultures regard to them as wild and part of natural anaestification yet in Beijing these insects are; cultured, bred, raised and harvested for human consumption. This clearly depicts the level of knowledge on insect consumption is lower in Kenya than Beijing.
    Malnutrition has been a menace in Kenya. In order to fight it, we have to embrace insect consumption since insects are readily available, mature faster as compared to animal and crops, cheap to raise compared to animals and plants and are richer in proteins as compared to other proven edible animals, so to my view, to make the public aware of this adverse importance of insect, we need to educate farmers on different technics of raising edible insects, public awareness on importance of insects, funding to insect farmers and also establishment of relevant industries to process harvested insects. This will help to reducing the level of malnutrition as one of 2030 sustainable development goal in ensuring good health to the nation.
    Insects’ consumption should be encouraged at all costs since they are major source of micro-nutrients which are very vital in diet in human health, create market for small scale insect farm-holders, source of proteins, source of income, earns government foreign income in case of export and above all insects mature faster as compared to others sources of meat; beef, pork, mutton, chevron etc. They require less laborer in term of feeding, security and space since they breed in a free environment with minimum manipulations. Food serving industries should encourage the consumption by incorporating these diets in their menus and advising thereafter.

    1. Kikuyus also consume insects but its mostly done by children. I remember in my childhood days we used to roast termites and grasshoppers when playing a game we uses to call “karongorongo” or “cha baba and cha mama”. Some people find entomophagy disgusting but come to think of it, the githeri we used to consume in high school was full of aphids but we used to go for a round two or “bina” as we used to call it.

    2. That’s true..
      If only we can embrace this culture of consuming this infinite creatures in numbers, I guess cases of those who have succumbed due to malnutrition would have been much lesser than the current numbers… You find a person so ematiated , very week, Very hungry and has no hope in making it to the next days, lying on the ground due to Hunger and all around him/her is just dozen number of insects.. Houseflies all over the body openings, ants around him and all these are proteins in nature… How I wish they were able to convert them to food…

      1. In this context I get to understand, we are living in a big world which contains infinite sources of food. I think there is plenty of food sources yet to be exploited. We need big minds like yours to convince people about edible insects so that to nullify their negative myths.
        Let open eyes of those who are blind to see the potential the land has.

    3. Well,termites are also found in the central and eastern during rainy seasons as well.people really don’t recognise their importance.If you don’t mind you could step to the eastern and central part of kenya as a living testimony of a man who consumes the grasshoppers,termites etc as you stated and i bet you will change some of their altitudes towards insect consumption.

    4. wonderful Mr.Muliro, it’s amazing that different communities in Kenya embrace diverse eating habits towards insect. Fact that kenya and East Africa as whole experience limited amount of animal protein with comparison to ever doubling population, it’s my opinion that you learn guy your should work in smart way to make public appreciate important of insect source of protein and direct them towards ways of starting insect farms in your region.
      I agree with you that malnutrition it’s real in Kenya. This have been contributed by rapid increasing population of young compared to stability of nation toward food supply therefore great work has to be done to make people familier with insect culture to replace other forms of food that is limited.Insects are really reliable.

    5. Insects eating will only be appreciated by people who have travel far and wide and happened to interact with cultures who are insects eaters. Insects eating has been there since the beginning of human kind.Therefore it should not be a case in Beijing only we have to embrace it too.Because the paradox is we are resource disadvantage there a number of us are suffering from malnutrition and we keep on the resisting from accepting insects eating as a cheap a source of proteins and providing the alternative.I will be so happy to see us joining the rest of world in insects eating.

    6. We only eat insects that we saw our parents who saw their parents and so on eat. The fact that in Beijing there are very many option of eating non-conventional livestock should make us leave our comfort zone and venture out to satisfy our appetite because the protein composition in a chicken and a snake are the same. To curb malnutrition we need to farm insects so that harvesting becomes easy unlike harvesting the natural way which is tedious and not having any assurances of a catch.

  4. I tend to think that eating insects such as scorpions and crickets among other insects may be scary but i do support feeding on them depending on their effect on human. The type of food we do feed right now were initially said to be poisonous however on attempt to feed on them people realized that it was not poisonous at all. Due to this i suggest that our feeding habits and what we feed on is influenced by attitude and beliefs that we strongly hold that prevent us from feeding on this insect. I can remember feeding on termites when i was young especially during the rainy season, we used to fry them and they were quite delicious.
    People do fear feeding on insect due to the environment they grow in such as house fly, cockroaches and beetles which are usually very dirty full of pathogens and the so called germs. Other insect thrive well in environment where there are wastes especially human wastes and other organic waste. however if we consider rearing these insects in a safe environment free from all sources of human wastes and organic wastes therefore means that they can be safe for use as food especially house fly and cockroaches which we do so much try to eliminate. With the change in climate and increased food scarcity it might happen that we shall one time be rearing these insects as a source of food for us and our generations. Each community in this world has different views on the type of food that is eaten by a different community ,like in Kenya we view snakes as poisonous and rather not safe for food while the same snake form part of the staple food in China and other parts of the world.
    Change in attitude and beliefs and going beyond our normal sources of food, insects can be a great alternative during scarcity and as a food security measure due to the following reasons:
    1. Reproduction rate of insects and patterns.
    Insect has a very high reproduction rate which results in huge swarms of insects such as locust within a short period of time. Therefore if used as an alternative food source, food security will increase proportionally.
    2. Variety of insects
    Insects have very huge varieties which are edible such as crickets which are mainly fed by the royal class in some country due to their nutrient value and flavor. Due to this variety insects have a very wide range of nutrients that are available in the food we eat daily and hence will easily complement the food we eat every day when we change our attitude and beliefs on our food sources.
    3. Negligible toxicity
    Many insects have negligible toxicity upon feeding such as scorpion viewed poisonous upon biting but has negligible impact on feeding.
    High levels of rare important nutrients
    Insects such as scorpion initially termed as poisonous is a source of Omega 3 fats which is required bythe body but rarely found in the food we daily feed on. I recommend feeding on insects as a complement to other food sources.

    1. I conquer with you Paul that it is the little knowledge and poor motives on insects that deny us the great role insects play in our diets, and animals too. so It is a great opportunity for us to enlighten our communities through all means to appreciate this organism despite bad notion put on them

  5. Come to think of eating insect, one imagines of something being out of the norm. For me is like you are on the survival series as shown in Bear Grylls Escape From Hell program on discovery family where you can make food out of anything within your surroundings to survive. But this time it is that you are eating an insect on your own volition. Insects as many people perceive are just tiny thing that make things happen e.g. pollination and that an imagination of it being on your dinner plate away from their thoughts. Our traditions are so dear to us that one can die of hunger when you can grab a fly and make a meal out of it. Imagine for instance you farm snakes you will be branded a witch as we see snakes as sheitani like once my grandma told me. Can this be sited for the reason why Africans succumb to hunger where nature offers are taken to the drain?
    Insect for a fact is a better source of nutrient especially protein compared to some of the common sources we utilize. For instance adult locust has high crude protein compared to beef. Insects also release less greenhouse gases compared to cattle and pigs. On economic approach insect are cheaper to feed compared to livestock. They are cold blooded in nature and require less energy to stay warm and therefore its feed is converted to protein. For crickets they require less 12 times amount of feed to produce the same amount of protein as that of chicken. Also they are less likely to cause disease compared to animals in that most of the disease that are zoonotic are from animal origin and insects occurs as vectors. For a fact insects are everywhere and why not make a meal out of it. In Venezuela the Goliath trianchurus a spider the size of a dinner plate is eaten by the Verona tribe siting reasons of the tropical forest having less protein.
    But the extremes in which people turn insects to food is somehow disturbing to me in that how do you make a meal out of scorpion. I believe we should not being preying on a predator. When I see a scorpion I see death not imagining a less appetizing meal out of it. Although cooked you fear for your life seeing twitching of its sting or it might turn around and make you pay for turning it to a meal. Eating of insects however may subject one to allergens, ant nutrient substance and may have pesticides .Some may also produce toxins.
    But I think it is high time for us as Africans to start exploring the diversity of food sources avoiding all the red lights on this road. Thinking of our common diets of githeri, mukimu, matoke among others you cannot imagine of how life is boring. Might this be the reason why you can know what your neighbor is cooking and the ingredient they use from the aroma produce by being used to the same food recipe common to use? Insect for food.

    1. Denno if we decide to walk in one direction towards eating insects people will live with no worry anymore.Bearing in your mind insects are readly available.i can assure you to come to the point of changing our perceptive about insects it will be fourth world war.people in kenya they always cry they have no enough food while they are surrounded by plenty of food. we are blinded by our own imaginations and culture.This will lead kenyan to live in the same state instead of being diversity.
      Did you also know some of insects are warmblooded such hawrk-moth,hummibird.

    2. I have came to learn that most of things Africans believe are just myth and superstition for instance farming of snake in Africa you will be associated with dark forces of which people will start isolating you.this snakes and scorpions can help us eradicate poverty and hunger that affect mostly African country so lets try and avoid old culture with no meaning and not helpful in our life.

    3. You couldn’t have said it any better Dennis, us as Africans surely need to get our heads out of the gutters and realize that it’s a high time we start exploring new food sources. These myths will only lead us to our graves. If only all the foodies could start a “it’s an insect and yeah I’m eating it” movement.

    4. Spider the size of dinner plate??, i can just imagine. If your neighbour saw you feasting on a scorpion meal, you will definately change your status to the “village witch” no matter how wealthy or educated you are ,leave alone owning a snake farm. It amazes how we leave gold to collect stones.

  6. Eating of insects is a great idea and according to me I could have been selective on the type of insects to eat due to culture, norms, taboos and personal likes and preferences. The types I would not consider eating even when extremely hungry are snakes, centipedes, caterpillars and scorpions because of the poison content and their scary looks bringing about a great phobia that even if I were to eat would get traumatized. Some others like the frogs, crickets, cockroaches, housefly, aphids and beetles I would not go for them because of the disgusting feeling I might get after eating them. The type of insects I would go for are the grasshoppers and termites because of the history of having been used in the previous years as a source of food and still being eaten by some communities. The other type of the insects I would go for are the butterflies, bees, ladybird and wasps because of their appearance, attractiveness and for the products they produce like for bee the honey that it produces.
    Eating of insects is a nice and adaptive idea since they are readily available; abundant in the environment, cheap alternative source of food therefore I would completely agree the eating of some insects if not all of them. Food and agriculture organization of united states are promoting insect eating as nutritious way to meet the nutrient needs of humans though it has not always be considered as food. Grasshoppers contains between 14-28 grams of protein which translates to between 30-60% of 46 grams of women protein each day and 25-50% of 56 grams men need daily. Grasshoppers and crickets are a good source of unsaturated fats according to food and agriculture organization of the United Nations which help in lowering risk of heart disease. They also supply small amounts of iron.
    Red ants supplies about 14 grams of protein, according to national geographic website and also serves as a source of 5.7 milligrams of iron which is 71% of 8 milligrams men require each day and one-third of the 18 milligrams women require on daily basis. Ants are also good source of calcium. Beetles are among the richest insect source of protein, according to national geographic but the exact amounts depend on the type of beetle. A giant beetle supplied about 20 grams of protein same amount of June beetle supplies 13.4 and pal worm beetle can have as much as 36 grams of protein. Beetles also supply calcium and iron and a good dose of zinc. The exact amounts depend on size and variety of the beetle. Caterpillars are perfect sources of protein and other minerals. It contains 6.7 grams of protein and 13 milligrams of iron. Mopane caterpillar supplies 31-77 milligrams of iron, also supplies about one-fourth of potassium you need each day as well as 100 percent of copper required by the body according to food and agriculture organization of United Nations. Termites are a good source of hearth healthy unsaturated fats and 49 percent of their body contains beneficial nutrients. Therefore insect eating can complement meat eating since it has got the nutrients required from meat.

    1. Wow!What a nice piece with even the nutrient levels of different insects Ruth.Now leave alone the “not liking ” altitude for i bet If you were really hungry and they (roasted insects)were presented to you ,you will definitely crunch them hungrily and before you realised you just consumed some caterpillars you would have ordered for more Ruth!

    2. According of what you’ve said its an absolute prove that insects are of high nutritive value just like the animal supplements. In my community have also experienced the eating of termites and grasshoppers. Termites have been really tasty and yummy and everyone wished for the rainy seasons in order to get a feast. Grasshoppers has also been eating and used to eat when young especially with ugali.This two types are what have personally witnessed their eating and even participated. Selectivity on type of insects to eat and those not to eat us a natural instincts coz when you just mention some types there is always a reaction like “yuck” and yummy”

    3. The question lies, do hungry man or woman have to choose what he or she needs to eat or he just consumes what is presented before him or her? We need to change the way we look on things expecilly food if we need to be a food secure country. What if you eat the centipende or even the snail without imgining what you have eaten. Will that solve your hunger problem?

    4. Hehe! This is interesting. So in this case you would have preferred to stay hungry even if you were not eating the snakes, scorpions and caterpillars alone? Anyway, we have to embrace insects consumption and ignore those cultures, norms, taboos and the mentality that eating insects is disgusting. This way, we shall obtain the richness in them.

  7. Wow! This is more than interesting Doctor. I think This should not be a food only in Beijing Kenyans too should be accustomed to eating edible insects and of course the other countries that do not consume insects should divert from their negative thoughts towards insect eating. This will at least decrease the pressure of other protein sources such as beef, fish and chicken which are more expensive and less individuals can afford. That way insects will highly contribute to food security and act as an alternative source of meat production and fish meal. Insects are potentially highly nutritious source of food with high fat, protein, fibre, and micronutrients content. Insect farming is still at very early stage in Kenya but it could however increase with increase in availability of insects and government support which as a result will contribute to the growth of national economy.
    I wonder how people consider it weird therefore a problem in indulging American culture to consume these insects but are so comfortable in consuming Genetic Modified organisms (GMO) product! Many insects are healthier than GMOs we consume on daily basis.
    Worldwide there are millions of people malnourished for their sources of protein are short while the insects are lying everywhere. Why can’t they complement insect meat which are readily available and pocket friendly?
    I come from a culture where we more or less kill insects not because we want to eat them but for fun or the thought of they will cause harm or just killing them (except for termites during rainy seasons). However I am prepared to step outside of my cultural perception in search for a dinner at Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing. Very curious to see my first encounter with the worms, water beetle and bee cocoons. Unlike you doctor, I have never had an insect for food except for a cricket cookie I just tasted some few months ago in JKUAT, it was awesome. At least you had an idea of how roasted crickets tasted like and so you knew what you would choose.
    By 2050 there will be more than 9 billion people on the planet, the United Nations estimates that to feed sustainable food production will have to increase by 70˚. Insect meals should be considered. However I am impressed that we have already started consuming them, the carrying out the projects here at the university impresses me more I think this will at least form a platform to insect farming in Kenya. It will therefore be of great impact to organise some panels and speakers to educate the public about feeding the future with edible insects.
    Compared to raring of animals insect farming would require less energy resources, less space ,low maintenance cost and high conversion ratio(insects can convert 2kg feed into 1kg mass while a cow require 8kgs to convert 1kg body weight gain).
    Of course I can’t recall it all but I was told I chewed and swallowed a beetle when I was small. I never knew then, now I have insects’ facts. See us in the world of “not an insect, not a food”

    1. I absolutely agree with the eating of insects as a better alternative. Insects feed on natural diets thus the probability of the having toxic compositions is low thus cannot lead to health complications. The adoption of the eating of insects as an alternative starts by enlightening of the people on the nutritive value and the compositions with high convincing proves and language. The idea starts from oneself then family then the whole community will be on it,then the country. Eating of insects can also be a good business as one will have a ready market contributing to country’s GDP.

    2. ‘It will therefore be of great impact to organise some panels and speakers to educate the public about feeding the future with edible insects’…good idea…i take note.

  8. The article about the eating insects in Beijing was quite interesting since it was creating the curious impression about the experience. But I think it would be more interesting if you could have avoided too much of personal information which was not necessary like about the type of phone: you could have just said you made a call and many others.
    I think insects are tasty. This reminds me the early childhood back in lock village where we are enjoying to think out of box and tried to eat grasshopper, ants and termites. Though most western often turns up their nose at the idea of eating small-creature. These animals have numerous attribute that make them attractive source of highly nutritious and sustainable food. Insects are all over the nations which covers the 80% of total animals and available. Very few country especially ethic group eat insects. From a nutritional point of view insects have significant protein content. Depending on the many factors its content varies especially of that of dry matter. Insects contain reasonable amount of minerals (k, Na,Ca,Cu,Fe,Zu,Mn and P).They can offer all 9 essential amino acids that animal can do. Because of their high protein and fat content and their reproductive efficiency. Insects hold great promise for thwarting an impending global food crisis. Human currently consume at least 40% of potential terrestrial productively 30% of the land on earth is used to pasture and feed livestock. The population is expanding every year and the demand for food will increase dramatically over the coming decade. Climate change, reduced productivity of agricultural land, overfishing, dwindling freshwater resources pollution increases will place disproportionate burden on earth’s ecosphere.
    I think something has to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and reducing mortality rates can be directly addressed by expanding consumption of edible insects. There is indeed the call for using insects to improve human food security. Insects should be used as alternative food source implementation of insect based diet can be an important part of our future.eatting insects instead of cattle is also good for environment. Insects can be produced more sustainably and with much smaller ecological than ivestock.Due to the fact that insects are poikilothermic or cold blooded and thus less energy to maintain body temperature. This efficiency reduces the amount of animal feed needed to generate the same amount of meat. Many insects such as flies, crickets, grasshoppers and beetles can consume agricultural wastes that humans and traditional livestock cannot. Insects do not compete with human food supply as vertebrates livestock do such as cows, poultry which are primary fed with grains.
    Insects are also easy to farm in large quantities using very little space compared to many other animals. Insects have substantially higher productivity and shorter life span s they can be grown rapidly. For example crickets can lay 1200 and 1500 eggs in 3-4 weeks. Whereas beef cattle requires more time. Insects use much less water than vertebrate livestock because they obtain hydration directly from food. The un FAO estimates that they are already more than 1400 species of edible insects currently consumed by people.
    Once technology are developed to produce insect based food ingredients they can be incorporated into numerous consumer items hence insects hold a great potential to contribute to food security.

    1. “would have avoided too much of personal information which was not necessary like about the type of phone: you could have just said you made a call and many others”..are you sure you got this from this post? I doubt…but anyway its my blog and i post whatever phone i want to post. Large phones, small phones, smart phones, not-so-smart phones…gerrit?

  9. Its funny how Deno and his friend take their naivety “Ushamba” to a far away country; a mix of potatoes , beans, chicken ,peas and rice really! They must be from central part of Kenya. People from this area never lack potatoes” Waru” in their meal. They must have been lucky, I never thought they would find all those constituents “Mashakura” in Beijing. And why wouldn’t they want to try something new. If I ever got that chance, I wouldn’t touch what I always eat in Kenya. I would go for any appealing food that comes my way just to kill my curiosity.
    It must have been hard to chose what to have for dinner; cicadas, sea stars and seahorses, locusts, silk worms, snake, lizards, centipedes and frogs, none is better than the other. Personally the only insect have eaten is termites “ kumbe kumbe” in our local language. Its tasty. Its Prepared like groundnuts. I wouldn’t mind trying snake or lizards as long as I don’t know that’s what am eating. Anyway how do you know this is snake or lizard? I assume once its cooked it loses its shape. I can imagine a whole snake on my plate and the smell? I would wish to know how fried snake smells. Culture and religion has blinded us until we can’t think outside the box. Eating insects, snakes or lizards is an abomination and its disgusting because we have grown knowing that. Perhaps that’s why Deno decided to stick to his “mashakura”.
    Eating locusts and crickets must have been adventurous. I have seen them and I can’t wait to try them some day. This was interesting Scorpion on skewers. I like that part where you ask the man on the counter if they were fresh and he pulls out a bucket from under the table with a big smile. And there they are crawling all over. It must have been scary at first sight. I would have taken to my heels. I thought scorpion are poisonous and can bite, so how do you even harvest them and cook? It’s ironic that scorpion are the most nutritious with Omega 3 fats but the thought of chewing them its not only disgusting but also scary. It would take anyone a lot of thinking to do that.
    It’s crazy, writing a will before eating sea horse and scorpion. What was the will for? So it was a dare and die issue? And why would anyone think he would die for eating insects yet other people eat? If it was not safe then I guess so many people would be dead by now for eating insect. How you come to taste and realize they were crunchy and tasted like fried chicken and roasted nuts makes me want to try them in future as long as it does not send me several times to the “common room”. Personally I think animal or insect is edible only that we are made to believe they are not safe. Perhaps that’s why Deno thought you had been cursed to have eaten that.

      1. This is actually very funny, but has captured truths about some aspects in their entirety. Like going abroad and sticking to what you eat, I think I’d play it safe too in a country where almost anything and everything is edible. Scorpions in my mouth!? Yup this is how you’d have lost me in adventure town Beijing!

      2. Wow! Linda your post is captivating it really brings out fear of Kenyans to try out new foods or delicies. Should i ever travel to China i would trying everything on the menu, as the adage goes travel to Paris to be in Paris but not cross it off your bucket list of travel destinations. If they were snails i would at least trying chewing the snail whether i can swallow it or not, i would have known how one tastes like. Imagine eating snakes disguised as fish then later realizing you just had snake meat for dinner. Perhaps it would not bother me at all or i could vomit my “intestines” out.

    1. I can see how Linda is suddenly turning to a future food insect hunter. Me personally I have never tasted a food composed of insects as the main diet… Maybe it is because of the “ushamba” thing and I think I should pay a visit to Dr. Kinyuru for some tutorials on how to enjoy a whole insect meal and try some with the expert.

    2. I agree with you,” They say do as romans do” when someone visits a foreign land that is a pleasure to try new things. There is a Somali proverb which says, “Waxan ku cuninba waa la cunaa”, what does not eat you is eatable. I can’t wait to have a lunch or a dinner comprising of seahorses, centipedes, frogs, silk worms, termites, crickets and snakes just to kill curiosity about edible insects.


      This is perhaps one of the most fascinating comments to read. But am sorry I can’t dare try tasting scorpions, snakes and lizards. Ooh No. Call it cowardice. At least not in another continent, maybe at a place closer home. Probably am Deno type, just have “mashakura” to fill my belly and am good to go.

  10. Sure thing Linda, culture and religion have blinded most of us to the point that we would rather die than eat something like a snake because it is ‘evil’. People should step out of their ‘mashakura’ comfort zones and try out a variety of delicacies just like our Asian colleagues.

  11. I am indeed in a dire agreement with Linda’s school of thoughts, because this has really been an issue in most parts of the world where individuals lack the tranquility to venture into tasting a variety of insect delicacies due to their nutritional ignorance on the same or just a negative attitude towards insects

  12. Reading this article brought some childhood memories back. I hail from a region in Kenya where almost half of the population consists of notorious termite eaters. When the rains come, members of this region put aside their differences and engage in a cat and mouse chase with the termites. Termites are eaten raw, boiled, cooked, fried or roasted. Personally I was not a fan as I dreaded coming into contact with insects whether alive or dead. Up to date, when I am upcountry I still spot open market sellers parading roasted termites in the market to the delight of the people who buy them in large quantities. Back then I would frown when I saw someone enjoying a bowlful of insects as my little self could not comprehend why they did so. With exposure to facilities like the internet and by acquiring education I have come to realize that I missed out on quality nutrients by not eating the edible insects that were at my disposal in the village.
    For many centuries, Africans have been feasting on insects even though the developed nations themed it as being uncivilized. I agree with the writer when he goes scouting the planet indulging his taste buds with all manner of edible insects. Gradually, the culture of insect eating is now being embraced globally as more people get to know the vitality of doing so.
    With the ever increasing human population, there is increased demand for protein sources which the livestock sector is finding hard to satisfy. Insects make up the largest and most diverse group of organisms. With such large numbers, they can act as an alternative protein source to livestock products. Scientists argue that insect farming takes fewer resources and is environment friendly as working on land in the long run is responsible for gas emissions and worsening the climate changes being observed globally. It should be encouraged worldly to also keep at bay diseases and malnutrition in Africa, hypertension, diabetes and heart conditions which are brought about by poor feeding patterns in developed nations.
    Insect farming can be improved by incorporating technology into the farming system. For instance the use of robotics and automation will ensure consistency in production. Record keeping can also be automated for easy access of data concerning the welfare of the insects through the years. People can be encouraged to form groups and assigned insect farming projects which will be supplied with start-up capital by micro-finances and government partnerships. Proper marketing by the government and insect farmers will also improve insect farming. Information on how beneficial insect eating is to our health and the climate can also be shared on social platforms with aid from the government and organizations. This will put much needed emphasis on curbing food shortage menace not only in Africa but globally.
    All said and done, the writer did a good job introducing the readers to other means of acquiring quality nutrients on their plate by shading light on other eatables like sea stars, sea horse, snake and lizards which the Asian culture enjoy.

  13. You really didn’t know what you were missing,…anyway what why would rich kids waste their time drumming stones to “cheat” termites It was rain drops falling on the stones haha. Trust me apart from the bugs being juicy ,it was fun drumming stones,… Ka huku fanya iyo you didn’t have enjoyable childhood like we did. Yeah the government should do something to help insect farmers,provide funds,subsidize feeds and provide service extensions. Am yet to try other bugs. Access though… Doctor… Bravo…you are serving lives.

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