If this wasn't a travel blog, it would probably be a food blog. I love visiting restaurants, reviewing food and sharing my experience with others. I'm also very picky about food, so I won't say that good food is bad, or bad food is good.
That being said, I love to try new food. I don't always like it, but I love growing my culinary palate. While travelling the world I've had some strange food encounters, like raw horse (yum), ox tongue (yum), boiled eggplant (yum, unless you mistook it as a chocolate cupcake, in which case not yum) and, the one I am most known for, dogduck (very yum).
But, throughout all my travels, the one thing I've always wanted to try was bugs. By bugs I don't mean raw earthworms pulled from my parent's garden. Those are gross and have chunky dirt inside them and they don't taste very good. Instead, I mean prepared bugs. Bugs that have been fried or baked or turned into paste and put onto crackers. Think "Grasshopper and Strawberry Jam" bugs; that kind of thing.
Unfortunately, bugs aren't a common staple in North American diet. If you ask for a dish and there's a bug in it, you take it back to the kitchen.
But, what if the bug is supposed to be there?
That's what happened on my recent trip to Lethbridge's Whoop-Up Days. I was hungry, so I decide to check out some of the food trucks and I came across a truck for MeltTownGrilledCheese.com. Their main dishes were grilled cheese sandwiches and poutine. However, they decided to mix things up a bit and add a scoop of crickets to the dish.
Yes, real crickets! Like the kind you buy at the pet store!
The cricket grilled cheese sandwich was $2 more than the regular sandwich, but apparently, they were all sold out of bread when I visited. This should have been enough to deter me, but instead I inquired about the cricket poutine. It was also $2 more, so I bought it.
And everybody around me gagged.
When the poutine arrived, it looked like a normal poutine with a scoop full of brown crickets on top. You could see their arms and legs, heads, eyes and shell. I twirled my fork into the dish, picked a fry with some extra cheese and a single cricket on it and ate it.
I didn't taste anything.
I tried a few more crickets.
I tasted them this time, but they didn't taste like much. They were a bit crispy, kind of like the tips of an over-cooked French fry, and they had a little crunch to them like a small nut or some Bacon Bits. As for a direct taste, I'm not sure if the cheese and gravy masked it, but I didn't taste anything.
The only part I didn't like about crickets was their legs. Their back legs are long and tough and occasionally got caught I my teeth. For me, it was like having a small, hard piece of grass in my teeth and I had to pick it out afterwards. I felt it was no different than eating chicken wings, except they are bug legs.
But, the biggest question you're probably asking is why I ate a cricket poutine.
Well, crickets, and insects in general, are an excellent substitute for red and white meat. Per pound, crickets have three times as much protein than beef, more iron than spinach and more calcium than milk. They have all nine essential amino acids, have a perfect Omega 3:6 ratio and are high in fibre. They also have 20 times the amount of B12 than beef.
Besides being very healthy, they are also a more environmental alternative than meat. They need less food and water to grow, they take up much less space and they can be grown everywhere. Unlike chickens or cows that take up a lot of space, you could grow and raise you own crickets in your house and add them to your food. A lot of experts believe that if we switch eating meat to eating insects, we can open a lot more land for farming, reforesting and wildlife, which improves hunger, the environment and the animal kingdom.
With all that in mind, would I eat another cricket poutine? Yes, definitely. I would put crickets on my salad too. Maybe have some chocolate covered crickets. I could snack on crickets instead of cashews at Christmas and try crickets and carrot in my soup. I would love to try ants, maggots and worms too, if I could get my hands on them.
But, that's just me. What about you? Would you try a cricket poutine?
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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The following is a guest article by Sally Elbassir, the owner and food taster of Passport and Plates, originally titled "The Tapas, Taverns and History of Madrid: A Food Tour". Be sure to drop by her blog for culinary treats from around the world!
I've always been a foodie. Long before the term "foodie" ever existed, I was that kid who was always eager to try something new.
Things haven't changed much in the last couple of decades. My palate has expanded, and I discovered that my dream job does exist; it just happens to be occupied by Anthony Bourdain. Now I satisfy my foodie obsession by writing on Yelp, and on my blog... there's plenty more where that came from.
Canada's 150th birthday cannot be complete without visiting the country's capital city... but which one should you visit? While Ottawa is the current capital of Canada, there have been four other capital cities, and it has changed seven times. It started in Kingston (1841 – 1844) and then moved to Montréal (1844 – 1849), believing it to be safer from the Americans. After the citizens of Montréal burnt it down, it rotated between Toronto (1849 – 1852 and 1856 – 1858) and Québec City (1852 – 1856 and 1859 – 1866). Finally, it was placed right on the border between the two provinces in Ottawa (1866 to present day). This tour ventures into each of these five cities and explores what makes them so unique.
Since the capital flip-flopped location seven times, it would be much more convenient to go through the cities geographically then historically. If we started in the West, we would start in Toronto, Ontario, Canada's biggest city. While G Adventures only mentions the CN Tower and Kensington Market, there is much more to see in this city. You could visit the 18th century Casa Loma Castle, stroll through the artistic Graffiti Alley, visit Ripley's Aquatic Aquarium, or go drink and dine in the Distillery District. Looking for more outdoorsy stuff? Check out the Toronto Islands, the famous High Park or the Toronto Zoo. You can even take a boat out onto Lake Ontario and see the city's iconic skyline!
About a year and a half ago I visited Kyiv, Ukraine. As I walked down the millennium old streets and gawked at the towering cathedrals, I saw the beginnings of a new country, one that was slowly rebuilding from a much darker time. The process of what I was seeing had a name. It was called decommunization.
Decommunization includes renaming architecture, changing laws and protocols, and even tearing down monuments. People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv, for example, which symbolised the friendship between the Communist East and the Capitalist West, was torn down. Some statues, like war memorials, are exempt, but there is still talk of making modifications to them. Anywhere you go throughout the former Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle are being removed – not from history, but from modern society.