Cicada, It’s What’s For Dinner

Brian Reis spoke with entomologist Louis Sorkin about how to eat cicadas:

Hors d’oeuvres! I’ve seen much worse. But James Hamblin gets queasy:

Some will mention that cicadas are arthropods, like shrimp and lobster. Eating them is just a step away. Just like how cats and cows are both mammals, so it’s okay that you eat cats. Cats that have been living underground for 17 years. And that really is the thing. I’m sure I’ve eaten things that have been underground for 17 years, but not knowingly, not happily.

Cultural differences and social etiquette aside, are they safe to eat?

How many chemicals do they absorb underground? Entomologist Jenna Jadin, a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, wrote a book of cicada recipes, so she’s not impartial, but she says they’re probably fine in small doses. Still the first page of her book reads: “The University of Maryland and the [cicada interest group] Cicadamaniacs do not advocate eating cicadas without first consulting your doctor.” That caveat seems extreme, but, their words, not mine. It may refer to the possibility of a shellfish allergy. If you have a shellfish allergy, cicadas may not be for you. Meanwhile the site Cicada Mania warns that even dogs should be wary: “Pets can choke on the rigid wings and other hard body parts of the cicadas; pets will gorge themselves on cicadas, and possibly become ill and vomit; pets who consume cicadas sprayed with copious amounts of pesticide can and will die.”