Bistro bitten by the insect bug offers grub with a difference

Reporter James Delaney tries some of the cakes. Picture: Greg Macvean
Reporter James Delaney tries some of the cakes. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Lemon-salted grasshoppers, chocolate-coated locusts and a brownie baked with cricket flour and topped with mealworms.

It may sound like the horrors being forced down the throats of celebrities by Ant and Dec on I’m A Celebrity, but it’s actually the new menu from a city bistro looking to give the Capital’s residents a taste of the bug’s life.

Picture; Greg Macvean

Picture; Greg Macvean

Patisserie Maxime, on Queensferry Street, has launched a range of insect-infused dishes in time for Hallowe’en, with crickets, locusts and mealworms on offer.

The range is the brainchild of owner Cyril Barthelme and, despite having to adapt his recipes to fit the new ingredients, he believes bugs could provide an alternative source of food for humans in the future.

“I’d been reading about how meat supplies and quality were falling the world over and that eating insects, like they do in some other cultures, might be a way forward so I thought I’d give it a go,” he said.

“There were a few problems, cricket flour which we use to bake the brownies is much more fine than wheat flour, so we had to account for that, but generally the reaction has been positive.

“It’s a matter of education; in the west, we are brought up to see insects as disgusting but that’s not true, people in other cultures eat them as a delicacy all the time and are aware of the nutritional value they have, that’s something we wanted to bring here.”

In addition to the brownies, the menu also features a chocolate cake with a layer of crickets baked into it, giving a crunchy texture, without any real difference in taste.

Cyril, 26, who is originally from Strasbourg in France, likened the taste of many of the bugs to communion wafers, but said they had greater 
nutritional value because they were high in proteins.

Emma Payne, 26 and mum Mavis, 65, braved the brownies and said they were “pleasantly surprised” about the taste.

“They just taste like any other brownie out there, the bugs don’t really add much to it,” said Emma.

“It is much richer, you can tell that there’s something a little bit different about them, but generally there’s not a lot of difference.”

The bistro partnered with Derbyshire-based firm Crunchy Critters to source the insects and according to the company’s director, Nick Cooper, bugs are a more common delicacy than many realise.

“In Europe and the western world as a whole, eating insects is still seen as a bit of a novelty,” he said.

“In places like China and Thailand, insects are just like a packet of crisps or a bar of chocolate, they’re a snack that’s been eaten for centuries.

“Bugs are a more sustainable food source than cattle for a few reasons; they’re high in protein and are generally quite low in calories too.

“There are literally thousands of edible insects on the planet, so from a sustainability viewpoint, it makes sense.”