Graveyard Shift

Here's What Different Bugs Actually Taste Like  

Jodi Smith
6.6k views 15 items

Appetites and diets evolve based on the resources that are most plentiful and accessible. Not every culture has the climate and space to raise chickens or cows, but there's one type of animal that can be found just about anywhere: insects. As such, there are culinary traditions around the world built around bugs you can eat to provide protein and other necessary nutrients

So, what do bugs taste like anyway? Like any ingredient, bugs have a variety of different tastes and textures depending on how they're prepared. In fact, there are many recipes that call for bugs instead of a mammal-based protein or fish. And don't worry: some bugs do taste like chicken. 

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Sago Grubs
Sago worm is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Here's What Different Bugs Actually Taste Like
Photo:  Hegariz/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.5

People in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and other nations in Southeastern Asia enjoy the taste of sago grubs, the larval stage of the capricorn beetle. After harvested, the Sago grubs can be eaten raw, steamed, or roasted

When eaten raw, the taste can be compared to oysters or unseasoned vegetables. Frying or roasting the grubs creates a flavor many describe as close to bacon. They can also be fried in bacon fat to enhance that aspect of the flavor. Roasting is usually done by skewering the grubs and holding them over an open flame. They are delicacies and served at special gatherings and festivities.

Woodlouse is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Here's What Different Bugs Actually Taste Like
Photo:  Mark Hilditch/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As crustaceans, woodlice have more in common with saltwater prawns than the average backyard denizen. Known as pillbugs in some parts of the US, these bugs are found in places where it stays dark and moist. After finding and collecting woodlice from under rocks, old tree stumps, or other damp places, gourmands dump the insects alive into boiling water. Woodlice must be cooked for a while to kill any bacteria that might make the person eating them sick, but are usually ready in just a few minutes.

The flavor of the woodlouse has been compared to that of its cousin the shrimp. A book from 1885 documented a recipe for making a woodlouse-based sauce to complement fish.

Bamboo Worms
Omphisa fuscidentalis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Here's What Different Bugs Actually Taste Like
Photo:  Oliver Laumann/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Named for their natural habitat, bamboo worms are common sources of protein in Thailand. The worms have 9.6 grams of protein per serving, which makes them an excellent source of nutrients for people who don't have access chicken or beef. They are usually fried and served with salt. Some people describe them as crispy and salty like a potato chip, while others claim the worms taste like a "cheese-less Cheeto." They have also been compared to popcorn, taking on the flavor of whatever seasoning is added to them.

Witchetty Grubs
Witchetty Grubs is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Here's What Different Bugs Actually Taste Like
Photo: Sputnikcccp/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Witchetty grubs are found in Australia and a treat for the Aboriginal people. They can be eaten raw or cooked over coals or in the ashes of a Eucalyptus fire. Their raw flavor is described as nutty and garlicky, with notes of roasted red pepper. Others say that when the grubs are cooked, their skin crisps up nicely and they take on a flavor reminiscent of scrambled eggs and chicken.