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Stink Bugs As A Delicacy?

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By Henry Moorecroft
Monday, November 22, 2010
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About the Author

Henry Moorecroft

Henry Moorecroft, leading the war against all things stink bug! He shares all in his latest ebook. Henry is a father of one daughter, ellie, and is married to Yolanda. Together they enjoy their quiet lives together taking care of their dog, Chandler. Henry works full time as a store manager while his wife is an active member of the local bowls club. Henry's personal interests include, travelling, badminton and chess.

Henry Moorecroft has written 6 article(s) for

You’ve heard the saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well, there’s a corollary to it, which says that one man’s horror is another man’s delicacy. This is certainly true about stink bugs. In most First World countries – and others besides – stink bugs are regarded, at best, as harmless insects that can be useful in warding off other plant-eating pests and, thus, are tolerable. At worst, stink bugs can be horrendous agricultural pests, reproducing prodigiously to plague proportions and seriously harming the marketability of crops, thus becoming targets for extermination. Additionally, they can be a real nuisance to homeowners whose houses they have decided to hibernate in for the winter.

However, in other parts of the world, stink bugs are considered to be a much sought for delicacy. Yes, you read right - a delicacy!

Take Mexico, for example. During pre-Hispanic times, pilgrimages were made to Cerro del Huixteco, a hill close to Taxco in which stood a temple dedicated to the jumil, the Mexican name for the stink bug. In present day Taxco, the pilgrimage has evolved into a fiesta. Each November, on the first Monday after the Day of the Dead, local people assemble in the forests of Cerro del Huixteco to search for jumiles under leaves, logs, and rocks. They eat the jumiles alive in their tacos and quesadillas or grind them up and use them as an ingredient in their salsas. Timed to the migration schedule of the jumiles, this Dia de Jumile is capped with the crowning of the Jumil Queen. Aside from the state of Guerrero - which is where Taxco is – other regions of Mexico also regard stink bugs as gustatory delights. There’s nearby Morelos where a smaller cousin of the jumile, called a chumile, is sold in the markets. The same is true in the states of Oaxaca and Veracruz. Sometimes Mexican stink bugs go by the name of chinche de monte (mountain bug) or xotinilli.

Jumiles and chumiles – as well as most insects - are good sources of protein and are low in fat. Additionally, they supply vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin) and contain a lot of iodine. Jumiles have a bitter, medicinal flavour due to the high iodine content and are spicy, as opposed to hot. The smaller chumiles are more concentrated in taste but, some say, are slightly sweeter. Those that come from Morelos and Guerrero are said to have a cinnamon flavour due to the plants that they feed on.

Mexico is not the only country that esteems the nutritional and gustatory benefits of stink bugs. In Viet Nam, stink bugs are called bọ xít and are part of the local cuisine. The same is true in neighbouring Laos, where stink bugs are prized for their pungent odour and are ground up together with herbs, spices, and chillies to be used as an ingredient in their condiment called cheo. Stink bugs are also eaten in Irian Jaya (also known as West Papua), a part of Indonesia. In Thailand, stink bugs are fried and enjoyed as a finger food as well as a main course, and they are used as a base for chilli paste. In the northern Thai province of Issan, the research and development centre of their agricultural college is doing developmental work with an eye towards exporting canned stink bugs. The college has already received inquiries from interested parties in Italy and Japan, thus showing that although stink bugs are not gastronomic fare for the faint-hearted, there is a market for these exotic insects.

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