March 17, 2013

She’s Got A Cricket Inside, But She Don’t Care


Good morning and greetings, daylight saving time fans. I think most of us enjoy the light later in the day, as now I don’t hop into my pajamas till at least 8 pm. Light is a very simple concept, although Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he invented the light bulb. Ellen DeGeneres summed up the situation for all of us when she said, “In the beginning, there was nothing, God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.”

As many of you know, I’m very much into sports, although most of my exercise these days come from dragging my heels, pushing my luck and jumping to conclusions. And I’m talking all the sports, including football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, snowshoeing, knock hockey, bass fishing, skeet shooting, ping pong, synchronized swimming, jai alai, bird watching, dog sledding, sky diving, bull fighting, jump roping, log rolling and darts. And that’s just what I’m into on weekdays.

But there is one sport that I’ve never really gotten into, and that would be cricket. For some reason, this bat-and-ball game never really captured my fancy, unlike canoeing, jump roping or my favorite, body building. But for sports fans in many countries, cricket is right up there on the top of the menu, and that’s where we’re headed today.

In a story written by Frank Elaridi for ABC News, a Salt Lake City food company has a new line of energy bars that have people chirping because of their unique ingredients. The company, named Chapul, perhaps because that’s where you might want to go after eating one of their products, has an energy bar that includes, coconut, ginger, lime, and you guess it, crickets.

A chart on their website shows that both cows and insects are 57 percent protein, but cows are 43 percent fats, while insects are just 22 percent fats. No word on centipedes, arachnids, or Arby’s new roast beef sandwich.

According to Chapul founder Pat Crowley, ” What this basically means is that insects have similar protein contents to livestock, but are healthier because they have less fat. We thought the people who would be most receptive are environmentally conscious people who already eat healthy products and energy bars and who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Insect diets are common in many countries but not in the United States and Europe. That is because many Americans have ants in their pants.

Crowley wants to introduce insects into American cuisine, but there is a psychological barrier that Americans have about eating insects because it isn’t part of the culture. That is, unless you go bike riding with your mouth open. He wants to introduce insects into the American diet by using ingredients like chocolate and peanut butter, the way sushi was introduced into American cuisine with the California Roll. Holy Jiminy Cricket! For some reason, this really bugs me.

According to Steven R. Kutcher, an entomologist based in Arcadia, California, there are insects in almost everything Americans already eat. Hey, the FDA allows up to 450 insect fragments in every one-pound box of pasta. The average American consumes about 20 pounds of noodles every year, so you crunch the numbers. It’s like the old joke, ‘Waiter, what’s that fly doing in my soup? Don’t worry, the spider on the bread will get him soon enough.”

“When you eat rice, flour, beans, there are going to be insects in them, but people don’t see them,” Kutcher said. “So that’s always been part of the human diet, especially before there was processed food.” Kutcher says although insects are high in protein while low in sodium and contain no trans fats, there is one negative aspect to snacking on them.

“The downside is, with something like crickets, they have spines, claws and exoskeletons made from chitin and it’s not digestible, so it goes right through you,” Kutcher says. “When you eat crab or lobster, you don’t eat the whole thing, you take off the shell. With something like crickets, you can’t remove the chitin.” No chit?

Chapul grinds the crickets into a flour in its bars so there are no legs, claws or antennae present, which makes for good eating but bad reception. When they are ground up that way, the chitin is still not digestible, but consumers don’t have the problems that come from eating all the body parts and they still get all the nutrients. So this way they have a leg up on the competition.

So what do crickets taste like? Seafood, veal chops, Doritos Loco Tacos? “It’s not quite like chicken,” Crowley says. “It has an earthy taste like sunflower seeds. The insects are pretty mild tasting, so it tastes like whatever you flavor it with. It’s like popcorn, if you flavor it with butter, it taste like butter.” Waiter, I’ll have the fried rice, shrimp and broccoli and the crickets in black bean sauce.

The esteemed TV star, Dr. Oz says that chitin in its ground form is a fat blocker and good for one’s health. That may be all good and well, but I’ve always preferred Beatles on a CD, not as a side dish. As I fumigate the thought of insect ingestion through my mind, I get butterflies in my stomach. If we’re going to start eating what’s crawling, hopping and buzzing around us, we’re heading down a new frontier on the culinary highway. Well, either way, I think I’ve finally figured out why those mantises have been praying about all these years.

Now I have a confession. I previously said that this year’s sunrise and sunset season ,much like my infatuation with Kim Jong Un’s new wife, was pretty much over. This was based on the fact that in the past, there has been less action in the sky in March than visa requests to visit North Korea. But I was wrong, as there was a spectacular sunset Thursday night, a gorgeous sunrise Friday morning followed by another pretty sunset that evening. I don’t know if it was the result of global warming or my digital karma, but I managed to photograph a couple of these events. In the words of the singer Meat Loaf, who I happen to love with mashed potatoes, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

For Friday’s sunrise, I started shooting from the cliffs above Cowells Beach, before moving over the Steamers Lane to capture the sun rising over the water and the mountains of Monterey. But the favorite photographic moments came when I moved onto Bird Rock along West Cliff Drive, and I was able to capture the sun rising through the trees, which was almost as exciting as the NBA action on Friday night. It was some unexpected late winter beauty, and I savored it like last week’s episode of “Justified” on FX, but without the TV MALV rating for language, violence and thank goodness, no nudity.

On to some late night humor. “The big news is the new Pope. His name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. If you’re saying to yourself, “Boy, that name sounds familiar,” you’re right. For seven years he was the ace reliever for the Yankees. With the selection process going on for the new Pope, there’s a lot of papal trivial. For example, did you know that no Pope has ever in the history of the church been elected without carrying Ohio? The cardinals each write down their choice on a small slip of paper and put in a silver chalice and then they mix all the names up and they’re drawn out. It’s the same thing they do for the Vatican’s Secret Santa.” – David Letterman

“In accordance with Vatican tradition, the cardinals in the papal conclave will release white smoke when a Pope is chosen. The practice was started by those two ancient leaders, Cardinal Cheech and Cardinal Chong.” – Jimmy Fallon “After tours of the White House were canceled due to budget cuts, Donald Trump offered to pay for them. All he’s asking is they rename it the Trump White House and Casino.” – Conan O’Brien “Mayor Bloomberg tried to ban giant 16-ounce sugary sodas and a judge overturned the ruling. And I said, “Thank God I don’t have to drive to Canada to get my Mountain Dew anymore.”- David Letterman

“Thanks to daylight saving time, we lost an hour this weekend. If you’re watching this show, you’re about to lose another hour. Everyone is talking about is these Google glasses. People are already worried about radiation from cellphones. So why not make a device that you can put next to your eyes all day?” – Craig Ferguson “According to reports, Saudi Arabia is considering dropping public beheadings because of a shortage of government swordsmen. You don’t want amateurs to cut people’s heads off because that could be barbaric.” – Jay Leno

So that’s our last blast for winter. Birthdays wishes go out on Wednesday to my esteemed writer/editor/deluxe dessert making pal Martha Lawrence, who’s one of the few people in the continental U.S. who never mistakes Encinitas for Escondido.

We’ll catch you streaking up and down the court while running the show for the hottest team in the NBA west. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ty Lawson fans.

2 Comments »

  1. Oh, thank goodness I have time, once again, to be reading your blogs.
    There’s that “silver lining” I’ve been looking for.
    And who knew- I mean, really, who knew about ground up crickets in energy bars.
    Life sure does have its surprises.
    Thanks for the good read and the beautiful photos.

    Comment by Wendi — March 18, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  2. This is my favorite time of year. I’ve got Yeshiva making it to the Sweet Sistine! (And I never liked the movie ‘Stripes’.)

    Comment by Call me 'Francis' — March 18, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

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