Part 1: Salted
As a producer of sea salt, marketed as Zeasalt®, I like to use our product. I know how pure it is, since we filter it, store it in gallon jugs for evaporation, and dry and package it ourselves. A few crystals pinched over a Caprese salad of tomatoes, homemade mozzarella and basil gives a bold finish. The bright white grains added to a hand-dipped, dark chocolate-covered caramel changes sweet to heavenly. I also keep a jar near the bathroom sink, and a mouth rinse of Zeasalt® and warm water is cleansing and soothing. But we do not eat many salty foods, and rarely add salt at the table.
I had a box of instant oatmeal packets left over from some camp weekend, and stashed them at the office for lack of a better place to keep them. We have been extremely busy at work recently, and I was working early and made a cup of the oatmeal. I tasted it and grimaced, astonished at how much salt was in it. I gamely swallowed a bit more, thinking, “Well, most people can tolerate this level of sodium, it won’t kill me,” but ended up scraping half of it into the trash. I filled my water bottle with the water I bring from home as the tap water in Bar Harbor is rather unpleasant. Our water is fantastic, coming from the Cadillac Mountain aquifer where there has never been any industry, farms, or even dwellings. Bottle in hand I went back to work. Howard asked me to look at a design he was working on. “Something isn’t right about it,” he said. “It just doesn’t look good.” I took a sip of water, looked over his shoulder, and choked, “Yeww,” I said, running out of the room. He and Melissa stared after me. “Guess it’s bad,” I heard.
But I had just swallowed a big gulp of sea water, and couldn’t answer.
How our jugs of salt water got mixed with our jugs of spring water I do not know, but they will now be labelled.
Howard was very relieved to hear it was not his design that had prompted my response.
Part 2: Excuse me, waiter, is that a mealy worm on my cracker?
Eating bugs is pretty unavoidable.
I suspect most people have swallowed a fruitfly, or chomped into an apple and then saw that other half of a worm. But most people do not seek out insect meals. The Dorr Museum, our local natural history museum, has an exhibit on insects, and offered a variety of tasty insect offerings at the opening reception.
Crickets hand-dipped in semi-sweet chocolate were an easy way to start. The chocolate was smooth and creamy, and the entire cricket hidden within was a mere aside to the chocolate. If you were not aware it was cricket it could easily have been a bit of peanut or cashew. The mealy worms were laid out like tiny strips of blackened onion on a cracker with hummus. Four mealy worms at a gulp, but again, the hummus was the overriding flavor, the mealy worms a simple crunch. Faced with a bowl of roasted mealy worms, looking like nothing except exactly what they were, took a bit more resolve. Crunch. Gone. A few more, crunch crunch. Gone. More texture than flavor here. I had been hoping for cockroach, knowing that would have meant a bit of “do I really want to do this?” effort. But there were none. The last offering was boiled cricket with sage and onion.
It looked just like a pile of dead crickets. And that is what it was. There were the little antennae, you could see their mandibles. There was no room for pretending It was a dead cricket on my toothpick. I expected a crunch, but these were boiled, soft, and meaty. Hmmm. The sage complemented them nicely. This was not crunch and gone, this was savor. The soft meaty body of the cricket, a smooth piece of onion. This was GOOD!
One woman tasted a few and said she liked the flavor, but did not care for the antennae getting caught between her teeth.
Thank you Carrie, from College of the Atlantic, for preparing this delightful tasting. And for reassuring any cautious vegetarians that if they use bottled catsup, they have probably already consumed more insect parts than they would get by eating a boiled cricket and one measly little mealy worm.
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