But what do they TASTE like?
At every interview I've had about edible insect research - whether an interview for a studentship or for a newspaper - I've been asked, 'But what do they taste like?'
In case you were wondering the same thing, here's a brief lab note to satisfy your curiosity!
For the people I know who eat them in Burkina, the answer is that they taste like caterpillars - or that they taste like meat. But what about people who've never tried caterpillars before? What do they think caterpillars taste like?
Since many of you reading this have probably never tried a shea caterpillar, I've collected a few answers here from people who have:
"Caterpillars are chewy, a bit harder than chicken and have a bit of an earthy taste. But overall have a protein-y texture (if that makes sense). That is dried and then rehydrated caterpillars because I've never tried them fresh!"
"Kind of if trees were made of meat thats what they would taste of :) they taste like meat to me but its a long time since I tried real meat "
"They are chewy and meaty and delicious. The taste is hard to describe, it's rich and juicy .The consistency reminded me a little of braised beef. "
"Fleshy savoury twigs!"
"I really don't know what to compare them to!! But my flat mate said something which I can't remember.. dried flowers perhaps?! ... One person in the office said they tastes like pork scratchings."
"they taste like fatty leaves and high sun, and what i imagine shea must smell like when bruised in the hot dust."
So there you go - A collection of opinions to make of what you will!
Me? When I eat them in Burkina, I think they taste like celebration - everyone is in such good spirits in caterpillar season. And when I eat them here in the UK, I think they taste like they're giving me strength.
With thanks to everyone who contributed to this lab note, and as always to all our backers so far - we're nearly there!
This lady (below) is selling caterpillars on market day for 100F a plate. The plate at her feet was her final serving - and it was only midday!