Nicole Kidman is a glamorous Oscar winner, but her idea of an “exquisite” meal is a plate full of insects.
In a video called Vanity Fair’s Secret Talent Theatre, a series featuring celebrities sharing their little-known skills, Kidman showed off her expansive palate by diving into a four-course meal of “micro-livestock.”
Kidman’s first plate was full of wiggly hornworms, aka large caterpillars with hornlike tails that live in gardens and feed off nightshade plants like tomatoes. “Extraordinary,” she says, after taking a bite with chopsticks. “Very moist, chewy, can’t quite describe the flavor.”
Next was mealworms, a favorite among birds, rodents, and chicken, which live under decaying wood and rocks. “I’m telling you, I’d win Survivor,” Kidman says after a bite. “That is a fruity taste. I recommend it.”
“Crickets!” she exclaims unveiling the third course. “Awesome. Like nothing you’ve ever tasted,” she said of the insect famous for its musical chirp. “Like a hairy nut — a nut from the shell.”
Finally, what Kidman calls “dessert” are fried grasshoppers, aka jumping insects that live in tropical forests and grass. “These are amazing. These are exquisite.”
Eating bugs may not be on your meal plan, but according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 2 billion people in the world consume bugs as part of their regular diet. The most common in order of popularity are beetles, caterpillars, bees/wasps/ants, and grasshoppers, among others.
Eating bugs is generally met with disgust in the Western world (cue the collective shock when Angelina Jolie and her children ate tarantulas and scorpions in Cambodia last year), but consuming micro-livestock has also become an offbeat trend, from stores offering chocolate-covered grasshoppers to restaurants serving up creepy, crawly entrées.
“Insects have a nutritional value such as protein and vitamins, just like any other living organism,” Steve Heydon, a senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at University of California, Davis, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that bug meat is usually clean, due to insects’ plant-based diet. And a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that some types of insects contain higher levels of nutrients than samples of sirloin beef.
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The hornworms that Kidman consumed were likely reared on an artificial diet due to their blue hue (their true color is green). Still, that’s a good thing since the ones that live in your garden contain a toxic element.
While mealworms are mostly all shell, they’re also harmless to eat if you’re craving crunch, according to Heydon. “At the museum, we sell them cooked and sprinkled with flavoring, like Mexican spices and bacon-and-cheddar,” he says.
Grasshoppers and crickets are probably the most commonly consumed bugs, says Heydon, and they taste similar to shellfish like lobster or shrimp.
However, Heydon draws the line at consuming insects raw, like Kidman, on a matter of taste. “You probably wouldn’t get sick from eating them, but cooking them makes them more digestible,” he says. “Especially caterpillars for which the gut contents would burst in the mouth. It might not be a pleasurable experience.”
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