Ah the fizz of champagne, the scent of roses - the tingle of formic acid. Actually, we may only associate the first two of these three sensations with Valentine’s Day, yet the last could be finding its way into our dinners à deux soon, if our new book, On Eating Insects is a look into the future.
This is the first book to take a holistic look at the subject of eating insects, presenting essays on the cultural, political, and ecological significance of eating insects, alongside stories from the field, tasting notes, and recipes by Nordic Food Lab.
In his introduction to the book Mark Bomford, Director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project suggests that adding insects to our diets might be ecologically sound, and urges us to try them “because eating insects is provocative," he writes.
"To eat a novel food – especially one that elicits initial fear or disgust – is the essence of eating mindfully. You have to ask questions, to satisfy trust in its provenance and, in doing so, begin to situate yourself in a place.”
Why not make that "place" your Valentine’s Day dining table, with this ant dish, courtesy of Roberto Flore Head of Culinary Research and Development at the Nordic Food Lab.
“Ants are a great first ingredient to use when you want to introduce people to the unique flavours of insects,” writes Flore. “This refined version encapsulates the Anty Gin in a delicious water mochi (mizu shingen mochi) sphere and is served with ants and fresh flowers.” Here’s how you make nine of them. Oh, and by the way Amazon delivers ants.
For the Tears: 100g water; 1g agar agar; 150g Anty Gin (red wood ant infused gin, available here)
To finish: 9 wild Mexican coriander flowers (Eryngium foetidum); 9 red wood ants (Formica rufa); 1g chilli powder
Tears: Off the heat, pour the water into a pot, then slowly add the agar agar and stir to dissolve. Mix slowly and thoroughly with a spoon. Place the pot on the stove, turn on the heat to medium and keep stirring the mixture until a gentle simmer is achieved. Simmer for two minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and leave until the mixture is at room temperature. Add the Anty Gin then carefully pour into a nine-hole spherical silicone mould and chill in the refrigerator for five hours, or until the spheres have a jelly-like texture.
To finish: Arrange the Mexican coriander flowers around the water mochi spheres. Place one ant on top of each sphere and sprinkle a little chilli powder around it to decorate. Eat and enjoy the sensation of the formic acid tingling in your mouth. For more adventurous recipes and insect advice order a copy of On Eating Insects.