With Fried Tarantulas and Bacon-Wrapped Crickets, Explorers Club Tests Food Source Frontiers

Every year, the Explorers Club serves insect hors d'oeuvres, and every year the future of alternative protein gets closer
With Deep-Fried Tarantulas and Bacon-Wrapped Crickets, the Explorers Club Tests Food Source Frontiers

Karen Lo

‘We don’t really believe in them as a food source, but we will,’ says Explorers Club president Alan Nichols. (Pictured:David George Gordon, the Bug Chef)

The historic Explorers Club, founded in 1904 and located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is known its exclusive membership, available only to those who meet its requirements for significant global — or extraterrestrial — travels. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest, for example, were members. So too are Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, for, you know, being the first people to reach the surface of the moon.

In that same vein of discovery and innovation, the club has a long tradition of treating its members to insect hors d'oeuvres, and every year, as is the club’s goal, the idea of eating bugs becomes less exotic and more of a possibility for even the average, non space-exploring eater.

In fact, whether or not it seems far from reach, insects are becoming increasingly more viable sources of protein even in the Western world, which has been the slowest to accept the bug revolution. Elsewhere, in places like Belgium and Thailand, insects have made it to college cafeteria menusculinary schools, and are even considered a luxury snack.

In the states, Explorers Club president Alan Nichols says that, with a looming burst in the human population ahead (which will reach nine billion by the year 2050), it’s time to catch up to the rest of the world.

“There are 1,900 edible insects in the world,” says Nichols. “We don’t really believe in them as a food source, but we will.”

On Saturday, March 21, the Explorers Club will host the 111th Explorer’s Club Annual Dinner (ECAD). David George Gordon, author of The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook and self-proclaimed bug chef, will present a sampling of insect d’oeuvres, like deep-fried tarantulas, Cambodian cricket rumaki (crickets wrapped in bacon with water chestnuts or pineapple wedges), teriyaki grasshopper kebobs, and cockroach canapés. This year’s theme, the Spirit of Exploration, will also highlight the need to “go first and go forward,” as the Explorers have always done, into the world of bug cuisine. 

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