Crickets and grasshoppers are coming to a menu near you.
In fact, this sustainable protein source is already available in many American restaurants as chefs are incorporating insects into their dishes. Take a peek inside the tortillas at The Black Ant in New York City, where grasshoppers, or chapulines, are a focal point of the modern Mexican menu, showing up in tacos, grasshopper croquettes and pastry chef Jesus Perea’s platano y chapulin banana cake and ice cream.
Mario Hernandez, chef and partner at The Black Ant, grew up in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where grasshoppers aren’t so shocking on the menu. Other insect-forward items include black ant guacamole with black ant salt, and a black ant salt-rimmed jalapeño cocktail.
At the moment, sophisticated Mexican restaurants are leading the charge in bringing ingredients like insects to the mainstream. Flora Street Cafe, the latest restaurant by Stephan Pyles, the godfather of elevated Southwest cuisine, uses crispy crickets as a signature garnish.
But bugs on the menu reached a pop culture milestone this year when grasshoppers sold out on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day at Seattle’s Safeco Field.
A 4-ounce snack bowl of chili-lime grasshoppers, Poquitos’ Oaxacan chapulines, is part of a partnership with local Mexican restaurant Poquitos. About 13 pounds of grasshoppers sold that day, selling at $4 per bowl, according to management company Centerplate.
The stadium has already sold more grasshoppers than the restaurant sells in a year, after just three games.
Contact Tara Fitzpatrick at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @tara_fitzie