The people of London may be renowned for their ability to adapt and accept in the face of change. The culinary scene seems to be a prime example of this, and the capital is full of restaurants from nations across the world. From Lebanese to Japanese, Londoners seem to be keen to embrace the variety which different cultures bring to the fair city, as a brief discussion between food lovers on social media illustrated.
What may have been surprising about this particular exchange, and about noted food critic Jay Rayner’s handling of the situation, was the assertion even the best culinary traditions may be given time to rest. Rayner and many others asserted eating classic French or Italian food may be great for the first few weeks, after which one may tend to crave creativity and variety. London seems to have cemented its place as one of the culinary landmarks through its own considerable achievements, however, it is may be the welcoming spirit and desire to adopt the food of other nations which may make Londoners the restaurant king.
Adopting the craze in the Eastern world, the people of London seem to have taken to eating insects. The whole idea of having a scorpion or a worm in a bottle of alcohol may shake some, so a bit of incredulity may be allowed for this eating actual insects in the place of meat. For many it might seem absurd, and yet this is what may be exactly what’s bringing restaurant-goers out in droves.
Head to the Archipelago restaurant in Cleveland Street for example, and one may find insects have been peppered into many dishes. The Love Bug salad seems to be the most popular, featuring crickets slathered in chili and garlic. Served as an accompaniment to a meal, it’s a dish best described as “crunchy.” The texture seems unique, and rather reminiscent of dried corn, though the sauce seems to soften it considerably. A sprinkling of weaver ants is available for a small extra fee, in case one needs something crispy and light to garnish the “salad.” Weaver ants are one of the more palatable of the choices offered in the insect world: they’ve been prized for centuries in Asia for their light texture and strong flavor.
Archipelago may be a unique example, as it seems to always look to showcase new ingredients. Other dishes at the restaurant include bees, crocodile strips and kangaroo steak. However, bugs are slowly making their way into the mainstream. Hungry shoppers looking for a snack in Selfridges for example, may pick up a bag of toffee crusted Chinese scorpions to nibble on whilst they browse. The Mexican chain Wahaca offered grasshoppers with dips and corn chips on their menu repeatedly this year.
Insects may have frequently been stated in scientific papers as the solution to the world’s growing protein conundrum, and experts have been advocating a change in culture for some time.. Suddenly it seems people may be more willing to embrace new things and the consumption of insects may becoming more of a routine phenomena.
If it brings a little more variety to the already extensive bouquet of flavours of the restaurants in London, it might be a venue happy to see it stick around.
How might this unique dish be popularised further?