This was the 3rd time we have visited the North Carolina Museum of National Science’s Bugfest, and after having enjoyed it quite a bit the past 2 years, we were excited. This annual family event that is billed as an educational event meant to provide kids with an entertaining approach toward entomology. We both love the fact that local restaurants get together and make dishes that incorporate insects as ingredients and let the public taste them. The resulting dish isn’t always all that great, but there is always one or two dishes that takes us by surprise. On a personal note, I love the fact that Julia’s mom was shocked that I had forced her little girl to eat bugs the first time we went to Bugfest.
Most years, the area around the museum is packed with kids and parents going to look at the different displays and this year was no different. We waded our way through the sea of screaming youngsters to find that the popularity of the food portion of the event had risen significantly compared to previous years. The first year we went to Bugfest there was a small line for the food, and those people who were waiting in line seemed very hesitant about the prospect of having bugs anywhere close to their mouths. This year, not only was the line much larger than I remembered but I felt like others were as excited to try the gourmet bug dishes as much as we were.
The vendors this year were restaurants as diverse as Tijuana Flats, The Market Restaurant and Locopops all offering their unique approaches to a bug based dish. I also heard about but somehow missed a chocolate cricket bar that was made special by local chocolatier Escazu whose candy is always ways delicious, so I can only imagine they created a tasty buggy choclate confection. Anyways, the one dish that we really liked this year was a critter fritter served with fried crickets and a chili mole sauce created by The Market Restaurant in Raleigh. The rich batter on the fried insects combined with the slightly spicy mole sauce really managed to make the crickets seemed like a much more appetizing food choice. Other entrants included choclate cricket popsicles by Locopops, Cricket cornbread by Posh Nosh, superworm quesadillias by Tijuana Flats, and buggy bread pudding by Acro Cafe. Though they were all interesting concepts, none of the food quite clicked the same way that the fried cricket and mole did. They were either too mushy (as worms often are), the taste didn’t work together, or there were just too many legs and feelers that were left stuck in your teeth after you had tried them.
As always, Bugfest turned out to be an adventure in exotic culinary fare where we tried dishes we would never have opportunity to try otherwise. Always an adventure, we will continue to come back to Bugfest in the future to see the strange and sometimes surprisingly tasty flavor combinations.