Cooking up new-style menus with insects



The speciality dish at the Sandia Mexican restaurant in Toulouse, France.
Called Los Gusanos this traditional Mexican dish translates to English as …worms. In this case mealworms. Served with bread and salad with salsa to dip.
Chef, Jean-Luc Trimaille says: “I had never cooked insects before, but they’re very easy to cook as you just saw, and as for the taste, I found that, when I first smelled it, it made me think of mushrooms right away.”
The idea to introduce the dish came from Trimaille’s Mexican born wife, Monica Juarez.
Customer G�rard Roussin is trying Los Gusanos for the first time. He says: “It’s like small pasta, it has a crunchy taste, it’s nice.”
And it seems, he’s already a convert: “If you manage to say ‘Listen, it’s full of protein, even if it’s made of insects, of worms or whatever else,” as long as you transform it, as long as you present it in another way, then I think it has a bright future.”
Sharing the dish with Roussin, Dominique Ruffi� says a little salsa helps the worms go down: “I forget that they are worms, so I can eat them. I was worried, but now with the spicier taste, it’s ok, it’s going well.”
To prepare Los Gusanos, Sandia restaurant has to source mealworms bred specifically for human consumption, which until recently would have proved difficult in Europe. But now, just a few miles away from Toulouse in Saint-Orens-de-Gameville, French company Micronutris has set up what it claims to be the first insect farm for food products in Europe.
CEO C�dric Auriol decided to set the farm up after a trip to Asia where insects are eaten regularly in countries such as Tha�land and China.
Auriol says insect farming is the future: “Compared to a traditional meat farm, an insect farm will give out 100 times less greenhouse gas, up to 50 times less ammonia and it will consume much less water.”
Insects also offer the advantage of being consumed in their entirety, unlike traditional animal products.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has been researching, raising awareness and supporting projects for insect farming for human food since 2003. It estimates that by 2050, there will be 9 billion people on earth and current food production will have to double. It says insects are part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people across Asia, Africa and Latin America and more than 1.900 species are used as food.
Micronutris specialises in mealworms and crickets. Auriol explains that like us, the crickets need their five a day: “We create hiding areas by using these egg boxes, then we give them food which is dried and 100% made of vegetables, so wheat flour, and then in order for them to have their water and vitamin intake, we also give them fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Crickets are usually ready to be eaten once they’re eight weeks old.
The mealworms are bred using beetles and reared in growth units where humidity is up to 60%. They are fed also with wheat flour and carrots until they are 12 weeks old when they are ready to eat. There are about 30 million worms in the breeding area.
Auriol says: The larvae is either brought in or created here, or we let it reach nymph stage and then the nymph will turn into a beetle and those beetles are our breeders, so they are in a way our own stallions here in this breeding farm.”
Entomologist J�r�my Defrize is in charge of the health and development of the insects. He says they have great nutritional value:
“They’re very rich in protein as much as traditional meats. Then we can find unsaturated fatty acids like omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 as well as minerals and vitamins.”
Micronutris has created a series of products ranging from dried cricket appetisers and salted, spicy mealworms to chocolates, cakes and biscuits.

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