On Mexican Crickets, Hypocrisy, and Shame

“If you want to be more adventurous and get more crunch, try the larger crickets.”

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I did not want to try the larger crickets. I did not even want to try the smaller crickets. But in Mexico, on the second day of a week-long academic adventure with my classmates, I was being asked to face one of my fears head on, or more accurately, antennae on.

My fear is not of eating bugs, but rather of being found out as a small-minded hypocrite amongst my peers. Friends and family know me for my enthusiasm and passion for food, which has lead me to pursue a graduate degree to study the economic, social, and cultural aspects of the topic. But only those very close to me know one of my deepest, most shameful secrets: I am not an adventurous eater. I am not into offal, or steak tartare, or oysters. The thought of splitting open a lobster does not excite me – it confuses me with the amount of effort required for so little reward. Spicy foods are unpleasant at best, and brutally painful most of the time. I don’t even like sushi.

“You must not have had good sushi before,” a shocked new friend will inevitably inform me.

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me.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ve sampled all of these items once or twice, and I try sushi about once a year, just to silence the skeptics. But it is never a pleasant experience. The raw fish, rare animal parts, and tongue-tingling delicacies that delight my classmates and friends just don’t appeal to me. My list of favorite foods sounds like the last meal request of an American inmate whose palate stopped developing at age seven. Give me cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, waffles, and chocolate ice cream with sprinkles, and I’ll die an unimaginative, but happy, death.

I knew that going on an international trip with the specific intent to study another culture’s gastronomy with some seriously passionate and open eaters was going to push me out of my comfort zone. While most Americans think of nachos and burritos when they think of Mexican cuisine, the traditional fare is a rich blend of ancient and modern, with many culinary traditions originating from pre-colonial indigenous cultures. Chapulines, or crickets, are fried, tossed in a variety of spices, and eaten as a crispy snack in the outdoor marketplaces that dot the bustling streets of Mexico City. They are also incredibly healthy and sustainable – crickets are high in protein, low in fat, and require much less fuel to raise than traditional livestock. Even though insects have been notably absent from the diets of North Americans and many Europeans, a recent article in Forbes says 80% of countries in the world already feature them as a normal food staple.

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These are the “small” crickets

As growing economies like China and India develop middle classes with a taste for meat, many scientists believe eating insects is the key to solving the world’s upcoming protein debt. Entrepreneurs worldwide have started betting on their success with the use of cricket flour for baked goods and processed cricket meat for nuggets. At an academic and environmental level, I am a huge supporter of eating insects. They are nutritious, better for the planet, and can be raised and sold by nearly anyone, regardless of social class or land-owning status. But the “ick” factor still radiates from the base of my throat whenever I think about consuming them myself. How do I reconcile such strong cognitive dissonance between my brain and my mouth?

I turned towards Nico, our handsome culinary tour guide, and surveyed the spread of insects on the silver tray he held with his outstretched arm. “I’ll just try a little one,” I said in a tiny voice, pinching the crispy legs of a critter that had been cooked in salt and garlic. I tossed it into my mouth, chewed just long enough to get a hint of flavor, and swallowed quickly, clearing any extraneous body parts from the inside of my cheeks. It tasted a little nutty and had the texture of the burnt, overly fried bits you find in the pan after making hash browns. It certainly wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t rushing back to pick up the larger insects and risk feeling the separate thorax, legs, and antennae swish around on my tongue.

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I survived!

As my classmates began nodding excitedly and chatting about their enjoyment of the morsels, I flashed a quick smile and stayed quiet. I survived another day of my contradictory existence as an unadventurous food lover, and my secret shame remained hidden with me.

A Short Video Series: LGBM and Family Eat Weird New Zealand Gas Station Treats

While traveling with my family through New Zealand, we picked up some traditional and newly developed Kiwi snack foods at a local gas station. This gas station wasn’t quite as special as the one in Australia because that one had kangaroo tails in the freezer next to the ice cream.

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While we didn’t buy the frosty Aussie appendages, my family members were kind enough to sample their other New Zealand snacks on camera. Varying results below.

SPOILER ALERT – Pineapple lump face:

THE FULL REACTIONS:

Pineapple Lumps

Vanilla Shake M&Ms

L&P

LGBM is going DOWN UNDER!

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G’day mates. As of this Friday, I will be embarking on a two week journey to Sydney and Ayers Rock in Australia and Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand with the fam. I will eat shrimp on the barbie and Vegemite (but not really) and whatever they eat in New Zealand. Are there kiwis in New Zealand or just the birds called kiwis? Is that an ignorant question?

Also, THIS:

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Baonana Split aka fried bao w/ice cream, fresh bananas, salted peanuts & Nutella from Belly Bao in Sydney. Yaaaaaaassss.

Any other reccos?

Beignet, Done That – The LGBM Guide to New Orleans

In what will likely be one of the most gluttonous trips of my life (but not the most because no one should underestimate my future ability to eat delicious junk), I traveled to New Orleans and ate for three days straight. Here I am in GIF form enjoying a beignet from Café Du Monde:

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And if you want to get up close and personal with that fine piece of legendary sugar and dough:

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Was it delicious? Yes. Was it the best thing I had in New Orleans? No. Read on to find out what made it to the top of my list of N’awlins eats and lots more Cajun delicacies.


Commander’s Palace is as old school as it gets, setting up shop in 1880. And Wikipedia says, “It was ranked the most famous restaurant in New Orleans,” so it was obviously our first stop.

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French 75 – Gin, champagne, lemon juice, sugar

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Turtle soup (with 100% real turtle)

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CRAZIEST MENU ITEM: Mardi “Foie” – Black skillet seared Hudson Valley foie gras over foie gras and cream cheese stuffed beignets with a Abita root beer-foie gras ice cream float. Shiiiitttt.

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Pecan crusted gulf fish with crushed sweet corn, spiced pecans, petite herbs, and Prosecco poached Louisiana blue crab

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Creole bread pudding soufflé

Get it here:

Commander’s Palace – 1403 Washington Ave – 504-899-8221


Ruby Slipper Café is perfect for a really decadent brunch and a heart attack.

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Bananas foster pain perdu

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Eggs cochon (Ruby Slippers “signature item”) – Slow-cooked apple-braised pork debris sitting on a homemade buttermilk biscuit, topped with poached eggs, finished with hollandaise

Get it here:

The Ruby Slipper Café – multiple locations – 504-525-9355


Pat O’Briens is the best time on Bourbon Street.

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This giant sugar-laden red drank is a Hurricane, their signature cocktail. It will have you singing Taylor Swift karaoke on a stage full of strangers.

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Get it here:

Pat O’Briens – 718 Saint Peter Street – 504-525-4823


Go to Apolline just for this epic bloody mary:

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Pickled green beans, bacon, buttermilk biscuits, shrimp, celery, lemon, lime – in a drink.

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Or come for this cinnamon bacon with brown sugar and pecans.

Get it here:

Apolline – 4729 Magazine Street – 504-894-8881


GW Fins is a fancy seafood place for fancy ladies and gents.

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Lobster dumplings with fennel, tomato, and lobster butter

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Parmesan crusted drum with asparagus, crispy capers, jumbo lump crab, Meyer lemon, brown butter

Get it here:

GW Fins – 808 Bienville Street – 504-581-3467


I obviously had to eat a po’ boy, but I opted for a non-traditional variety at Killer Poboys, a po’ boy pop-up in the back of a bar. And they are SERIOUS about the fact that it’s a bar – the badass lady chef verbally chastised two young-looking boys for trying to buy a sandwich. The boys were terrified but the rest of us were quite amused.

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Glazed Pork Belly Poboy – NOLA rum & ginger cane syrup, lime slaw, garlic aioli

Get it here:

Killer Poboys – Back of the Erin Rose Bar at 811 Conti St 


Our final meal was at local celebrity chef John Besh’s pizza mecca Domenica. From 2pm – 5pm every day, they have half priced glasses of wine, bellinis, and pizzas; best deal in town.

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Half margherita and half gorgonzola with speck, apples, and honey

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Roasted cauliflower with sea salt and whipped feta

Get it here:

Domenica – 123 Baronne Street – 504-648-6020


So what was the best thing I ate in New Orleans? An unassuming local donut hole called a buttermilk drop at Wink’s Bakery.

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Buttermilk drops are part cake, part donut. When I asked what made them so good, the person behind the counter said, “We use the real stuff to fry them.” I don’t think I want to know what that means, but this was definitely the best bite I had in all of New Orleans. Better than a beignet. Trust me.

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Get it here:

Wink’s Bakery – 1218 Decatur Street – 504-309-2481

LGBM 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY! And Africa Sneak Peek

LGBM 1 YEAR OLD

One year ago today, I started this little experiment in food, bad GIFs, inappropriate language, and general lunacy. Thank you to everyone who has ever read a post, or told me they read a post, or even LIKED a post. I am incredibly thankful to all of you and have had the best time watching this project blossom into something I’m actually proud of. If you want to reminisce about the good old days, scroll down to find the “Old Stuff” header on the right hand side where you can browse old posts and see how LGBM has evolved.

Other big news, I’m back from Africa. I have content coming out of my ears so its going to take me several weeks to get all of the posts out, but for now, here is some sneak peek footage of my dad trying crocodile in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe:

And I also wanted to apologize for verbally shitting on biltong in my first Africa post (found here). The dried game meat isn’t really that bad.

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Day 1 – Paris!

I’ve been in transit for nearly 24 hours and we’ve still got about 16 to go before we reach our first destination of Victoria Falls. We took a 7 hour flight to Paris last night, arrived at 11:00AM, and had about 12 hours of layover time to kill so we did what any normal family would do: go into Paris and eat buttloads of French food. See below for some airplane food (full disclosure: we used a bunch of miles to fly Business Class so everything is amazing) and Parisian cuisine:

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My bro starting the trip with some champagne and cheese

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The cheese plate that came with my airplane dinner. NOTE VERY IMPORTANT DECORATIVE LEAF

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This was the appetizer: Maine lobster with wasabi mayo and chopped mango salad. THIS HAPPENED ON A PLANE. The “ambassador of French cuisine” for AirFrance is Joel Robuchon, so you know this shit is legit.

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Main course:”pan-seared tournedos of beef with truffle butter, mashed potatoes with horseradish, buttered asparagus” (I’m keeping all the menus for safekeeping.) I swear I think there were real bits of truffle in the butter.

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Made it to Paris! Here’s a quiche.

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This is my mom. Her favorite candy in the whole world is Rocher Suchard, which they don’t sell in the US. We went into a grocery store and she cleaned them out of their supply. This will last her about 3 days and she will not share.

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Our last stop in Paris was at Berthillion, a legendary ice cream shop. Unfortunately the original Berthillion is closed until September, since all of Europe goes on vacation for the month of August (those lazy jerks JK I’M JEALOUS) so we went to a shop next door that stocked the frozen treat. These flavors are wild blackberry and pear.

Off to the next flight, au revoir!

 

 

Africa Eats – Coming Soon!

LGBM LION KING

In exactly one week from today, I will be flying to South Africa for a 2 week journey filled with animals, waterfalls, selfies in safari hats, and copious amounts of family time. I also assume there will be food. I don’t know much about South African cuisine, except that their version of beef jerky, called biltong, is thicker and not sweet. It also looks like shit:

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Hopefully it tastes better than it looks and I will eat and write about lots of other delicious, non-shit-looking things.

Before I go, anyone have any good food-related book recommendations?