Tuesday 15 March 2022

Dark Food Review: Bugvita BBQ Crickets

Dark Food Review: Bugvita BBQ Crickets

Review By Casey Douglass

Bugvita BBQ Crickets

Comfort zones can be funny things. They can feel nice, but they can also stifle growth. The ancient Stoics knew this. That’s why they often practised voluntary hardship, to expand their tolerance for rocky situations and emotions, and to prepare themselves for when actual hardships might appear. This notion is what caused me to be browsing Amazon one day, looking for dead insects that were fit for human consumption. It’s there that I settled on some Bugvita BBQ crickets, and here where I describe how I got on.

I’ve been immersing myself in Stoic philosophy for many months. This brought me to Ben Aldridge’s book: How to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable: 43 Weird & Wonderful Ways to Build a Strong Resilient Mindset. Inside, Ben draws ideas from Stoicism, Buddhism and modern psychology, and presents numerous ways that someone might test themselves and expand their comfort zone. You can probably guess that one of the ways suggested by Ben involves eating something unfamiliar, or something that you even might feel repulsed by. I did once eat garlic snails in France many years ago, but besides that, I don’t recall eating anything along those lines since. A direct quote from Ben’s book is “...an obvious place to start is with insects.” So I found my mind turning in that direction once more.

I’ve often wondered what cooked insects might taste like. Every now and then, I will be watching a film or a TV show and see someone eating something that used to scurry and chitter. Reading Ben’s thoughts and experiences about how he got on with his own insect-based dining made me realise that I could half fancy having a go at that! It might even have been something that I would have tried before, but besides chocolate covered insects in expensive Christmas novelty assortments, or in pricey lollipops, I hadn’t really seen much opportunity to buy some. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me until this point, to look online for cooked insects. That might be a good thing, depending on your view about it. Either way, that Pandora’s box is open now, so there’s no going back.

The first product that I found was a collection of various insects to try. I liked the idea of an insect buffet, but I balked at the price. I then came to a few of Bugvita’s roast cricket selections. I was happy to note that they seemed to contain twice the weight and were roughly half the price of the previous multi-selection. I laughed at myself when I realised what I was doing. I was ordering something that I didn’t much like the idea of eating, but I sure as hell wanted as many as possible for my money! On the other hand, maybe some part of me was an optimist (or a frog *cough *) and was thinking that if I actually liked the crickets, it’d be nice to have more to snack on later.

Bugvita BBQ Crickets

When they arrived a few days later, my first thoughts were that I was disappointed with how small they looked through the clear plastic window of the pouch. I’m not sure why as I do know the size of crickets. I can only think that my sense of scale had been ruined by the aforementioned films where someone ate a roast locust on a stick. I had a browse of the packaging and also saw that people who are allergic to crustaceans might also have issues with insects. I tend to be okay in this regard but it’s worth mentioning none the less. I didn’t actually open the packet for a few days, I was waiting for a time where I felt open enough to try them.

On the day that I ripped open the resealable pouch, I felt ready to have a taste. I tipped a few crickets out into my hand and had a sniff. The faint smell of BBQ reached my nose. I ordered a flavoured insect as somewhere, at some time, I remember reading that roasted insects don’t tend to taste of much. I wasn’t being flashy, or trying to mask any possible unpleasant taste-bud tickling potentials. I took a close look at the crickets, letting my mind drink in what I was about to eat. The bit that got to me the most were the eyes. I don’t tend to eat any food that still has eyes. The eyes... I got past it though and popped a cricket into my mouth.

I tasted the BBQ. It wasn’t overly strong. I felt the coarseness of the cricket, the way that it seemed to wick moisture away from the part of my tongue that it was laying on. I manoeuvred the insect into the side of my mouth and crunched into it. It was very crispy. If I’d had my eyes closed and not known what I was eating, I could have mistaken it for a BBQ potato crisp, albeit a small one. Before I knew it, I’d swallowed, and I felt a few bits of debris in various areas of my mouth. My mind helpfully pointed out that it was tiny bits of dead insect! I still put another in my mouth though. This time, I had a very mild nauseous feeling under my tongue. I don’t really know how to describe it. Like when you feel queasy in your stomach, but under your tongue. Tension maybe? It was very very mild and passed in around 30 seconds. I experimented with putting more than one cricket in my mouth at a time, peaking at around ten. I chewed and crunched merrily away. I was even happy to find a larger specimen as I dug through the pack. At this point though, it presented no extra challenge to my sensibilities.

Bugvita BBQ Crickets

So here I am, the next day, writing about how things went. I have a packet of BBQ roast crickets that is still at least 80% full sitting on my shelf, with the awareness that I’ll probably eat the rest at some point soon. I honestly expected to be okay with eating the crickets, I wasn’t fighting against my every notion or action in the process. I knew that I’d try them even though the thought caused some mild mixed feelings in me. But that was entirely the point. Our thoughts often paint things to be a certain way and, unless we give that thought scrutiny, we can go through life reacting to our perception of things, rather than the things themselves. With much in life, the complexity of the factors involved can make any voluntary challenge to this status quo seem overwhelming, but when done in a micro, low stakes way such as this, it’s clear to see the benefits that can be had by pushing the envelope where you can.


You can visit the good folks at Bugvita for more information.

If you’d like to read some of my other Stoic posts, you might like this, this and this.