Disgust is often considered a basic response that evolved to protect the human organism from contact with foul or contaminated substances. Yet we eat only a small percentage of nature’s edibles, and overcoming disgust may awaken our receptiveness to sources of nutrition that are underutilized. Here is a swanky venue to challenge routine eating habits – the annual dinner meeting of the Explorer’s Club.
The diners on this occasion heroically traverse the borders of disgust. The setting is elegant, the guests nicely attired, and the arachnids, insects, testicles, paws, and feet on the menu are served with gourmet garnishes. Chef Gene Rurka’s creations include sautéed scorpions on endive, testicles poached in blood, and tarantula fritters. The effect is both witty and grotesque. Only a few of the guests evince disgust, though some draw their lips fiercely back as they approach their foods with their teeth alone – the only bodily instrument of eating that is free from sensation.
One stated purpose of this event concerns the promotion of new and sustainable food sources. This objective is more plausible with certain of these delicacies than others. The cockroach, a resilient creature that has endured for millions of years, is fat free, high in protein, and (we are assured) tastes like shrimp. Roaches are also plentiful – though the one featured here is the relatively handsome Madagascar hissing cockroach, not the kind that scoots behind your kitchen cupboard. On the other hand, sustainability is an improbable claim when it comes to bear paws. And while it is hard to identify the reptile and amphibian filets stacked in the kitchen, one suspects that at least a few would be headed for the endangered species list if they were to become popular comestibles.