The emergence of 17-year cicadas offers the adventurous cook an opportunity to bake these treats from the 2004 cookbook "Cicada-Licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas," from Jenna Jadin and the University of Maryland Cicadamaniacs.
"Overall, over 1,000 insect species are eaten by humans," writes Jadin. Cicadas in particular have been a staple food for Australian Aborigines, New Guineans, Siamese, and American Indians, and were considered a delicacy in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as in modern-day Japan.
The advantages of dining on insects? "Most insects are cheap, tasty and a good natural protein source," she notes. "Additionally, they are far cleaner than other creatures: grasshoppers and crickets eat fresh, clean, green plants whereas crabs, lobsters and catfish eat any kind of foul, decomposing material. Finally, insects are low in cholesterol and low in fat."
Her recipe for Emergence Cookies is below. "These should look like cicadas emerging out of a little pile of chunky mud!"
Yield: 60 cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
An additional 1/3 cup sugar
1 beaten egg white
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
About 60 parboiled dry roasted cicadas (roast for only 8 minutes so that they retain some moisture)
1. In a large bowl, beat shortening with eggs, the 1 1/2 cups sugar, cooled chocolate, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined, scraping sides of bowl.
2. Gradually stir in flour till thoroughly combined. Stir in the nuts. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
3. Meanwhile, stir together the 1/3 cup sugar and beaten egg white. Place cicadas on waxed paper; brush with egg white mixture and set aside.
4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Place a cicada on top of each ball, pressing lightly.
5. Bake in a 375° oven for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set. Transfer to a rack to cool.
From "Cicada-Licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas" (University of Maryland), 2004. Reprinted by permission.
Disclaimer: The University of Maryland and the Cicadamaniacs do not advocate eating cicadas without first consulting with your doctor. While many people do eat cicadas, there is no guarantee that they are safe for every person to eat. As with all foods, it is possible that certain individuals will have allergic reactions to substances within the cicada.
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