How to cook bugs

Here’s what’s been cooking up at Manresa lately. Not something pretty – and pretty tasty – on a plate as usual. This one is just a tad more macabre. Chef’s been personally cooking bugs that our lovely gardener Cynthia had collected just for this purpose.

This was just another day in the life of a biodynamic garden. You’ve heard of that garden, yes? The procedure is called the ashing of pests – such a poetic name. It calls for collecting the pests that infest a farm, dry roasting them in a cast iron pan until they are burnt to a crisp. The cooked bugs are then crushed in a mortar until they are turned into ash, and mixed with ash from a wood burning stove. The resulting dust is sprinkled around the garden, particularly in the areas most affected by the bug infestation.

The ash is supposed to prevent the bugs returning.
Let this be a lesson to you bugs: don’t f*** with my garden. I think that’s the message – a slightly less gruesome procedure than mounting dead bugs like butterfly specimen and sticking them in the ground as a warning, huh? And it certainly beats spraying pesticides in my book.

I wonder if the ashing of the pests work in life outside the garden as well? What do you think? Don’t you have one or two pests in your life you wouldn’t mind grinding into ash? Well, ok, before someone calls the cops on me, I certainly didn’t mean grinding them into ash, but, you know, perhaps a bit of hair, or a half eaten sandwich from their plate. Wouldn’t it be great? A sprinkle here, a sprinkle there, and p-o-o-f!

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12 Responses to “How to cook bugs

  • faustianbargain said:
    July 17th, 2007 at 11:12pm

    you are joking!! while BD does align itself close to organic farming which is ‘good’ in my book, ashing the pests is one of those weird ideas that doesnt make sense..most BD practioners pick and choose BD methods..i dont know many of them, but i am surprised that ashing the pests still has a following..dont you have to..like study the stars or wait for the planets to fall in line or something like that for each type of insect?
    i am a big believer of homeopathy and have a somewhat grudging respect for some aspects of astrology/astronomy, but the so called benefits of ashing the pests is kinda unbelievable.

  • Moby said:
    July 18th, 2007 at 1:46am

    I bet it would work also with critics.

  • lee said:
    July 18th, 2007 at 6:22am

    I had to click over from your flickr photos to see what this was all about. I’m curious about how they collected the pests? I too have my doubts about BD farming but when you talk to people who actually do it they seem pretty convinced of the benefits. There is so much in this world we don’t know about yet!

  • Stephen said:
    July 18th, 2007 at 11:19am

    That’s pretty morbid. I like it. I wonder if it works.

  • faustianbargain said:
    July 18th, 2007 at 2:49pm

    i think wood ash by itself will work as a pest repellent..for certain pests anyways. i just dont get why the pests have to be ‘ashed’..or the bit about the lining of the planets.
    of course, looking at the stars during planting of seeds is a time honoured tradition….esp if one can predict rains etc.
    most organic methods of pest control are pest repellent and dont always involve pesticides..organic or not.
    i have also heard of neem and esp neem oil as an effective pest repellent. turns out they create havoc with the insects’ hormones and renders them sterile. makes sense to me because folklore warns against the neem for the users who plan t have children..apparently its also a kind of contraceptive for human beings. the jury is still out on that, but it is indeed a great pest repellant. i am going to have to read up more on BD.

  • B said:
    July 18th, 2007 at 4:09pm

    Pim!
    That is some awesome voodoo witchcraft! However, is it still cooking if nobody eats it?
    I feel a bit like this is a question like the sound of one hand clapping or something. you had dishes, heat source, tools, and bugs – although you didn’t eat them, they helped prepare food for later use… wheres the line?
    Really enjoyed the post.
    B
    http://www.handtomouthkitchen.wordpress.com

  • veron said:
    July 19th, 2007 at 7:25am

    Oh good. I thought for a moment that it was a new dish at Manresa. Hmmn..I wonder if that would work with those pesky Japanese beetles.

  • Elise said:
    July 19th, 2007 at 11:15pm

    Hey Pim,
    I didn’t realize that garden was biodynamic, how interesting. My mom and I got a tour a couple of weeks ago of the biodynamic farm that is part of the Rudolf Steiner center right down the road from us in Carmichael. Very interesting. Hadn’t heard of the insect ashing.

  • sara said:
    July 25th, 2007 at 1:53pm

    Are those butterflies? I am so surprised they’d be collected as ‘pests’, as they help keep a garden pollinated. It is the resultant caterpillars that are pesky, but those can be removed as you find them munching.

  • Neil said:
    July 31st, 2007 at 10:03am

    Funny I should stumble upon your post on the day I am ashing darkling beetles and horn worms. Curious, did you burn youself like I did? I think the bugs got revenge on me.

  • misoponia said:
    August 15th, 2007 at 11:01pm

    You know, I wouldn’t find this credible except that my sister and I used to use similar logic against the plump aphids infesting our family’s roses. We discovered (how? I’m afraid my memory fails me) that after de-aphiding a bud, impaling a couple little green guys on nearby thorns was sufficient to deter their relatives from reconquering lost territory.

  • misoponia said:
    August 15th, 2007 at 11:02pm

    You know, I wouldn’t find this credible except that my sister and I used to use similar logic against the plump aphids infesting our family’s roses. We discovered (how? I’m afraid my memory fails me) that after de-aphiding a bud, impaling a couple little green guys on nearby thorns was sufficient to deter their relatives from reconquering lost territory.

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