Flies that Like Beer &
A Cockroach Hall of Fame
In the culinary world, eating bugs may be the last frontier. But it may take a while for your corner deli to stock dried cricket snacks.
For flies, though, the pickings are never slim; guess that’s why they like beer. And someday, there’ll be a Roach Museum in every city.
It’s all part of the exciting and fleeting world of urban vermin, those shy roommates of ours, that have been with us since we built our first cities and, most certainly, will outlast us.
Their fierce competitiveness drives us to stay a step ahead or die of starvation and disease, and much of the way we store food and develop medicines has been shaped by the threat of their omnipresence.
So much so that many a nutritionist or adventurous gourmet has been suggesting ways for us to control their population, other than taking our chances with poisoning and other unsafe extermination methods.
To put it bluntly, all these progressive souls are saying is, we should definitely eat bugs. Many already do and we’re not talking about natives of some exotic land.
A PLATE OF CRUNCHY WINGS
The way we live today, chances are your downstairs neighbors have already tried. And liked it, too. It’s your fault if they haven’t opened up to you.
In fact, folks who’re into entomophagy (bug eating) have been telling us for years about their nutritional, low-sodium and no-fat value. But we usually gag just thinking about the possibility.
And that has little to do with the ‘tastes like chicken,’ or ‘crunch like peanuts’ line of gentle persuasion. Some believe that we may as well land on another planet before even try an insect, just on the account of its looks.
Perhaps. One thing is for sure: critters that cohabit our urban dwellings are not clean. Which means, you’re supposed to catch and feed wholesome grub to your cockroach for a few days before chopping it down. Still tempted?
FRIED SPIDERS ON A STICK
But before anyone sugar-coat you about the wonders of the bug cuisine, let us tell you a little story about what happened at one of the century-old Explorers Club‘s annual dinners, at the Waldorf Astoria.
Members of this club are a very selected bunch. You need to have accomplished something really great to be accepted, and watching a 48-hour marathon of GeoTV just doesn’t count.
To have an idea, Neil Armstrong is a member, because he’s Neil Armstrong and you are definitely not. Some Everest climbers pay fees too. But as it turns out, dinner is almost as daunting as its associates’ achievements.
Thus, one year, tarantulas were on the menu. They’re awfully nutritious, etc, etc, we’re told. But part of the spiders’ arsenal of defenses is their stingy hair, which, when threatened, they burst into the attacker’s face.
Tarantula hair is highly allergenic to most creatures, including humans. That year, the cook didn’t cook them as thoroughly as he should have, and guests who tried the hors’dourves had to be carried out on stretchers. True story.
THERE’S A FLY IN THE GLASS
It’s Ok for you to be picky about what you put in your mouth. Thousands of years of conditioning have made you the way you are. But flies have no such a problem. They will go for everything, bless their tiny multiple eyes.
In that way, they are absolutely indispensable to nature’s chores and irremediably disgusting to most of us. About what they like to eat, we’ll be moving right along without stopping on what you may be thinking about just about now.
But when it comes to sugar, they’re our formidable competitors. And our beer, for as little it contains, is also a target of theirs. Researchers found out that it’s glycerol, a sweet-tasting compound that is a by-product of yeast fermentation.
Which reminds us of a funny story a bartender once told us, about the habit of serving Coronas with a lime wedge. While most sophisticated New Yorkers thought it was something to do with enhancing the taste of the Mexican beer, it actually has a more prosaic origin.
According to, let’s call him Jimmy, it has to do with diverting the attention of flies away from the bottle and onto the fruit. So, all those years perfecting the art of shoving the lime inside your beer were, pretty much, wasted. Sorry.
THEY BUILD MOTELS, DON’T THEY?
In what equates to the not entirely convincing conversion of a sinner into a preacher, a pest control specialist had a ‘revelation’ of sorts and decided to create a sanctuary to that which he exterminates for a living.
That’s how the Cockroach Hall of Fame came to be in Plano, Texas. A dozen dioramas, called “roach art,” depict borderline bizarre little scenes of roaches relaxing on a beach, playing piano (Liberoachi!) or the torch of a miniature Statue of Liberty tchotchke.
They’re all dead, by the way, even though the store where the hall is located also has the fearsome Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. They’re really big but since you usually see them contained and not under your bed, don’t look really scary.
Since the invention of the Combat trays and similar types, city dwellers have caught a relative break from finding roaches in their homes. But the emphasis here is on relative. They still appear, sometimes flying, sometimes crawling, but always disturbing.
Today, even a five-year old knows that we’ll never completely extinguish cockroaches from our homes and cities. And here’s the case to call it as it is: we’re the ones who’re dirty and smell strongly enough to attract bugs from all over to come fester on us.
The truth is, we don’t even like when our own pets eat crawling things, even if, at this point, they would even want to.
Sorry, folks, but risking leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth, we may need to at least consider those bug eaters and their radical diets: they do have a point.