ROASTED ants crawling over a cheeseboard. Fried rice with mealworms. Scorpions on a surf'n'turf. Soon even a fly in the soup might not be cause to call over the waiter.
Having spent most of their kitchen lives trying to keep bugs out of the food, some Australian chefs are starting to include specially bred edible insects on their menus.
While the "wow factor" of including creepy crawlies is part of the reasoning behind the trend, advocates also argue that insects are an ethical, sustainable source of protein and eaten by many other cultures around the world.
Sydney-based insect breeder The Edible Bug Shop is selling restaurants a variety of adult insects, larvae and scorpions, as well as taking orders from the public.
It supplies popular chef and author Kylie Kwong who has overcome her own fear of bugs and now includes dishes such as Cantonese fried rice with mealworms and baby crickets in sticky rice on her menu at Billy Kwong in Sydney.
The surf and turf at Public in Brisbane comes with scampi and scorpions.
In Adelaide, Duncan Welgemoed owner/chef at Bistro Dom, is experimenting with crickets, bees, mealworms and grasshoppers and includes them in the tasting menus for his more adventurous diners.
For a fundraising dinner next week, he has created a cheeseboard with a difference - a combination of a homemade cultured curd, with oxidised apple and roasted ants that is meant to appear as if it has been left out overnight.
"Introducing these things slowly is the key," Duncan said. "Seventy per cent of the time people are wowed by them, and excited to eat them, mostly for the novelty factor. The other 30 per cent wouldn't touch them."
Duncan said bees and bee larvae were a good starting point, because of their honey connotations. Grasshoppers were also good - very crunch, very nutty - but mealworm had a very strong insect flavour, "like a rancid cashew nut".
"A lot of insects do have a weird aftertaste, a little bit metallic or very earthy," he said. "It does sway the delicious factor from it."
However, the South African-born chef is convinced there is a strong ethical argument for including insects in our diets.
"If you look at the majority of world, the western world is the only ones that don't eat insects," he said. "They are sustainable and its cheap. A lot of chefs have been championing this."
The Edible Bug Shop's founder Skye Blackburn said demand has grown in the past two years as people began to appreciate the nutritional and environmental benefits of eating insects.
Crickets were the biggest seller but mealworms were her favourite, particularly when included in brownies or choc-chip cookies.
"Within the next 10 years eating insects will be a necessity. The generation coming up at the moment won't think eating insects is weird at all ... it will be normal like eating raw fish which nobody thought about 20 years ago."
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