Having thrown away the best years of my life right here in Orlando, I can say, as can many of you, that I've slaughtered enough bugs to qualify as the insect Grim Reaper, black evening dress and all. Like Commander McBragg, I could tell droning war stories all day long about being buzzed by flying cockroaches the length of a Kit Kat or living in a house where you'd think the spiders paid rent, they invited so many relatives to come live there. Some I've fought off wearing "Braveheart" face paint and brandishing a can of Raid Max, some have sent me away screaming like they were wearing hockey masks and carrying knives instead of just scuttling.
But I've never seen an infestation like the one for "A Bug's Life."
Before you ask, no, I haven't seen the movie, but I still ran out to get the ladybug in the Happy Meal before the things were cooled from their plastic assembly-line molds. This partiality to cartoon toys (along with an absence of the typical Orlando-resident anti-Disney sympathies -- I'm a traitor, kill me) doesn't prevent me from realizing that, as far as hype goes, Moses and his locusts looks like pesky kids compared to a full-frontal Disney PR assault. In fact, God has bounced Machiavelli and is looking to Disney for spin tips, which is why you hear less of the "vengeful" and "jealous" stuff about Him and more of the Tinkerbellish "cares" and "saves" thing. You can be as omnipotent as you want, but you still have to get 'em in the door.
Cooking up a revolt
Like all movies that cost more than India, the flick swarmed us with hype before it came out, and now that it's nesting in theaters we're being sprayed with merchandise (just in time for Christmas! Kids! Start jumping up and down like idiots!). It could cause you to call a computer-generated Orkin man to come bomb the ads off your television. You just know you're going to eventually spend money on darling replicas of things whose guts you spend a lot of your tropical life trying to make a Pollack painting out of.
Sure, I've already caved, but I am a weak-willed, easily led lifetime-achievement-award-winning consumer, and if it's colorful plastic I want it. I understand, however, that those with more spine than an earthworm are not suffering these animated disease-carriers gladly, so it is for you to counterattack the bug blitz. And I would like to present a way to put the little vermin -- sort of -- in their place.
Ants in the pans
Actually, on a plate is not a place you really want to find a bug. But just in case one day we run out of chickens and don't want to go the Soylent Green route, how about a recipe for "Mealworm Chocolate Chip Cookies"? Or "Ant Brood Tacos"? Martha Stewart might think she's something, but the smart money says that SHE doesn't have any recipes in her exhaustive files that call for "1/2 pound ant larvae and pupae."
These repulsive tidbits were found on the Edible Insects website, featured in a recent issue of Men's Health (is this what they're telling these guys? Is this what makes them act like that?), where our gracious host offers not only a few recipes but tips on how to raise insects in order to harvest them. (The holidays are coming, and crickets just might make that perfect bite-sized finger food.) Don't act so disgusted -- you're sure to have eaten a few in your life, and not just when you were a kid who took dares. According to Edible Insects, "Flour beetles, weevils, and other insect pests that infest granaries are milled along with the grain, finally ending up as tiny black specks in your piece of bread." (Are you going to finish that sub? Me neither.)
If you're a Luddite non-webster and prefer actual books to cybergastronomy, Ten Speed Press recently published a shocker by David George Gordon, "The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook," offering recipes for 33 dishes you'd normally bash with a newspaper rather than serve to your honored guests, stuff like "Sweet and Sour Silkworm" and "Curried Termite Stew." Hey, if it's good enough for Louis Armstrong, it's good enough for you. According to a CNN interview with Gordon, little Louis did, as a child, drink "a brew made from boiled cockroaches" to battle sore throats. (No mention of "that's how come his voice sounded like that.")
So they may have been here a million years before us, they may be here a million years after we're dead, and currently they may be more marketable than any of us will ever be. But we can still raise them like cattle, kill them en masse (the best way, according to Edible Insects, is to freeze them for 15 minutes -- but make sure they're all alive first. You wouldn't want to down a previously expired bug, would you?) and eat 'em like Tic Tacs.
I'm not gonna try it. You try it. Personally, I would just rather stick with McDonald's (as if a fly never found its way into a fry vat). I have my health to think of, you know. At least of the mental variety.