05.16.13

Can You Eat Cicadas? Yes, and Here’s How

Millions of little gremlins are emerging from the dirt after 17 years of hiding. So fire up the grill! We talked to entomologist Louis Sorkin about the best ways to prepare the little protein nuggets.

A feast is coming.

Any day now, millions of cicadas are going to emerge from the dirt and head up into the trees, where they will swarm, sing, mate, and then die. While they are here, predators up and down the Northeastern United States will feast. Wasps, birds, rodents, small mammals, and snakes will all dine on the Magicicadas of Brood II. But what about me? Can humans eat the bugs?

Turns out yes, we totally can. And many do!

But the prospect of picking a cicada up off the ground and biting into its thorax is rather unappealing. So we wanted to know more. How can one cook a cicada? Which of my kitchen skills would best apply to baking up a bug?

To get the answers to these biting questions, we trekked on up to New York City's American Museum of Natural History to speak with entomologist Louis Sorkin, who told us when it’s best to eat a cicada (when they're still soft), what they taste like (corn), and six different ways to cook them up (grill, skewer, barbecue, steam, boil, sauté with meat or vegetables).

Bon appetit!