By Richard Levine
This week I attented the joint annual meeting of the Entomological Society of Brazil and the Latin American Congress of Entomology in Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil.
One day I walked by a table that had snacks for the attendees, including bowls of what looked like rice, nuts, and insects. I could clearly see mealworms and dried cockroaches in the bowls.
I asked someone about it and they told me that the bowls were leftovers from a special symposium they had done on entomophagy — the eating of insects. It was led by Rossano Linassi, a professor of gastronomy at the Instituto Federal Catarinense.
Then suddenly, Rossano and some friends appeared. When I asked about the special dishes he makes, he told me to follow him into the kitchen to watch him make something from scratch. He then proceeded to make cockroach tapioca, which you can see in the following video.
I also got to speak to Professor Eraldo M. Costa-Neto, who is an associate editor for the journal Insects as Food and Feed. He told me a little bit about entomophagy in Brazil. While many indigenous people eat insects on a nearly daily basis, people who live in cities do not. That is due to cultural reasons — people simply tend to think eating insects is nasty — but it is also because of sanitation laws. Apparently, the authorities frown on the practice.
Eraldo and others are trying to change that perception, and they hold international meetings on entomophagy. If you’re interested in the subject, be sure to check out the entomophagy symposia at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, Florida.
Richard Levine is Communications Program Manager at the Entomological Society of America and editor of the Entomology Today Blog.