21 September 2005

Special of the day: sautéed cockroach with onions

In a chapter he wrote about the "intellectual and emotional world of the cockroach", entomologist Howard Ensign Evans included the story of a rather unusual dinner experience of his1.

I once had a cockroach served to me in an order of beefsteak and onions in Texas. (I believe it was an American roach, but accurate identification of fried specimens is difficult.) I was ravenously hungry after a day in the desert, so I cleaned my plate except for the cockroach, which I spread out neatly in the center of the empty plate, arranging his antennae and legs as best I could. The expression on the waiter's face when he picked up my plate was ample compensation for the health risk I took. Cockroaches are basically clean animals, but they do track about a good deal of human filth; domestic roaches have in fact been found to carry bacteria responsible for a variety of intestinal disorders, as well as polio virus and even hookworm. I survived my Texas meal well, although my sorting out of fried onions from fried roach parts was sometimes arbitrary.

As much as I like insects, I don't think I could eat a meal containing a cockroach. But I suppose I wouldn’t mind a snail crawling on my salad. Do we tend to be less prejudiced against what we are more familiar with?

1. Evans, H.E. 1968. Chapter 3 in Life on a Little-known Planet.

1 comment:

Trix said...

I think we are definitely prejudiced in just such a manner. A cockroach crawling around our own filth is somehow much more disgusting than say, eating the organic veggies from our own gardens where lord knows - I have seen all manner of slugs, aphids, weevils, beetles, and worms crawling about, not to mention birds. But I have no qualms about munching happily after a cursory check and rinse with those. If I saw a cockroach on my restaurant plate, my meal would be ruined!