I easily gathered eight cicadas while going about my morning chores on Thursday, and I popped them all into the freezer so they would perish quickly and then be ready for a lunch taste test.
You can eat cicadas raw, but I needed all the help I could get to overcome the “I’m eating a bug” factor, so I sauteed them in a bit of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper for about ten minutes until the exoskeletons were pretty crunchy. Then I served the wildcrafted treat up, four cicadas per plate.
I couldn’t talk my partner into eating a single one — he said he might try a cicada another time if I removed the wings. And, to be honest, I had to look in the other direction while popping the bits of invertebrate flesh into my mouth, a bit like what I do when I get a shot. If I can’t see it, the scary thing isn’t there and I can focus on my other senses.
So, what do cicadas taste like? Actually, when I could ignore the fact that I was eating an insect, they were delicious. Keep in mind that I taste-tested what’s known in culinary circles as “soft-shelled cicadas” — youngsters who have just popped out of their nymphal skins and haven’t yet hardened up their exoskeletons.
I didn’t detect the almond or pistachio flavor reported on the internet. Instead, the texture (and flavor, actually) was like the flesh from the one lobster tail I’ve tasted, but without that faint hint of fishiness, and with a little crunch when my teeth hit the wings. (I really liked the cicadas wings-on and don’t recommend removing the appendages.) Since there are several species of periodic cicadas, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if each one tastes a little different.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give these sauteed cicadas a 9. In addition to tasting good, the insects also really agreed with me — as I started writing this post, my mouth watered and I snuck one of the cicadas I’m saving into my mouth for a snack. On the other hand, it probably would have taken all day to gather enough cicadas to serve as the protein source for a whole meal, so I’ll just keep snagging the delicacies as I pass them by.
Which is all a long way of saying — I recommend them! If you’ve got cicadas crawling up out of the ground, now’s a perfect time to see if you like them as much as I do.