Eat the Cicadas, You Cowards

Eat the Cicadas, You Cowards
Image:Cliff Hawkins (Getty Images)

Every spring, in my home state of Louisiana, every citizen, no matter how much we may hate each other the rest of the year, joins together for a few blissful months of dragging insectile creatures from ground holes chimneyed by their own spit, boiling those creatures alive, and feasting on their tail meat, after first wiping their little asses with our thumbs. We call this crawfish season, and I encourage Louisiana’s neighbors to the northeast to try it this year with their surplus of 17-year cicadas.

According to the Washington Post, cicadas are like shrimp, only cleaner, and every bit as delicious:

“[Martha] Weiss [a professor of biology at Georgetown University] nicknamed cicadas “tree shrimp” for their closeness in genetic makeup to shrimp of the sea — and because, as she put it, “if you’re happy eating shrimp, then there’s really no reason not to try cicada, which is like a shrimp except living in a cleaner environment.” But she describes their flavor as far different: nutty, with a bit of an asparagus taste. Lemann describes them as woody and earthy; Goon likened them to a potato chip. “The honest truth is that they don’t have a ton of flavor,” says Weiss, so you can experiment with spices, sauces and other flavorings.”

While Weiss doesn’t think there’s a wrong way to eat cicadas, battered and fried, boiled like little lobsters or crawfish, roasted and dipped in chocolate, with wings and legs or without, there is a correct time. Cicadas have three stages to their above-ground life: the nymphal stage when they’ve just popped out of the newly warmed ground; the teneral stage, when they are milky white; and the fully adult stage when they’re all brown and ready to start screaming. Eatin’ time for the ground bugs is during the first two stages, so be ready to pull them out of the ground as soon as they pop up, then freeze them for later eating.

Also, if you’d like a dipping sauce, do what we do in the crawfish restaurants: mix mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, and a fuckton of hot sauce for what we like to call “crawfish sauce” but you may call cicada sauce. And, sadly, as I live much too far away to partake and have also missed nigh on three entire crawfish seasons, please let me know how they were.

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