Pop-up Edinburgh restaurant offers insects on menu

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SCOTLAND’S first “pop-up pestaurant” opened for business in the Grassmarket with a menu offering mouthwatering beasties and creepy crawlies.

Sweet chilli pigeon burgers, salt & vinegar crickets, BBQ mealworms and chocolate-dipped ants were all offered up to peckish passers-by.

Kristi Kaarik and Katie Ruul from Latvia try out some bugs. Picture: Toby Williams

Kristi Kaarik and Katie Ruul from Latvia try out some bugs. Picture: Toby Williams

For those brave enough to try it, all food was free of charge as pest controllers Rentokil 
celebrated 85 years of service.

And the one-off restaurant proved a hit with the Capital’s daring diners with steady custom throughout the day.

Phillip Quirie, 33, from Dean Village said tucking into a pigeon burger: “It’s quite dry but nice. I’d give it a bash if it was on sale in the shops.”

Asked how he felt about the bugs and insects, he admitted: “I’m not that keen, they’re lacking in flavour and definitely need a lot of seasoning.”

Dario Crolla, 47, from Holyrood, also tucked in: “The pigeon burger is okay. I’ll be staying away from the other stuff though.”

Although the menu may not sound appetising, it is in fact healthy. Insects have been found to be rich in protein, zinc, calcium and iron while also being low in fat. Edible insects have recently been identified by a number of different bodies, including the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation, as a potentially valuable food source for the world’s growing population.

They also have a high “feed conversion rate”, meaning they can be farmed using relatively little land, water and energy compared to livestock. Meanwhile pigeons are a well-recognised delicacy.

Common house crickets have been found to contain four times as much protein as the same weight of chicken – and 100g of crickets contain just 12 calories, compared to 288 calories in the same amount of beef.

For David Cross, head of technical training academy at Rentokil, however, the creepy crawlies were still more of a nuisance than a food source.

“The Pestaurant is all about celebrating the hard work that goes into keeping the UK’s pests under control,” he said. “Common UK pests like wasps, mice, rats, bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas and pigeons, can become a problem for anyone.”

How they taste

INTREPID reporter Becky Parker headed along to tuck in, here’s how she rated it: BBQ meal worms – nice but a bit cardboardy. Salt and vinegar crickets – more or less the same but salty. It’s the thought of them that is off-putting. Chocolate-dipped bugs – The chocolate covers the taste, so okay. Wood pigeon burger – A bit dry and chewy. I wouldn’t go back.