It is not a happy feeling when you are looking down at your cicada hors d'oeuvre and it is looking back up at you, with beady eyes.
Cicadas do not have much going for them on the gastronomic front. They are, however, Atkins-friendly, which means that, like the diet, they have no carbs and provide endless fodder for conversation.
Still, why anyone who had not lost a bet would eat cicadas is, of course, a very good question. It was one that I and two other Sun colleagues who had been hornswoggled into eating bugs -- Taste editor Liz Atwood and columnist Kevin Cowherd -- asked ourselves as we assembled for a taste test of several cicada recipes.
There were a couple of answers. One was noble: Cicadas are news and it is the public's right to know what they taste like. Another was practical: We had these recipes (see accompanying story) and needed a panel to sample them.
Overall the panel's advice about eating cicadas would be: Don't do it. But if you are forced by curiosity, by a desire to be at one with nature or because you have lost a bet, then go for the taco.
Secondly, the taco worked because its cicadas were well-hidden. They had been chopped up in a food processor, and when they were mixed in the lettuce and other taco stuffings, they were difficult to see. Difficult, but not impossible. When one little body part, a brown abdomen, slipped out of my taco, I stopped eating.
Rating: 2 wings
It worked because even though you could see the cicada, you couldn't feel it in your mouth. The texture, or mouth feel, of a cicada is not something that sends you into fits of gastronomic joy. At best it reminds you of stale soy beans. At worst ... well, let's not go there.
Anyway, the garlic and chives are the dominating flavors, and the crunch of the pea pod helps you forget about the other things you are chewing.
Rating: 1 1/2 wings
Food stylists can do wonders. Food stylist Julie Rothman bribed her son's baseball team, the Patriots, into digging up cicadas between innings of their Roland Park league games. She then cooked these critters and served them to us in her home.