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?
Don't forget to pin it!
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.
Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".
Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.
Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada. Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade. The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.
Imagine the bustling streets of New York, then times it by ten. Add a dash of Chinese culture, a wallop of nature and half dozen fish balls that don’t actually contain any fish, and you have the beautiful city that is Hong Kong.
At 7.2 million people, Hong Kong is a dynamic city with an incredible history, towering skyscrapers and a unique mix of English and Chinese that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. While Hong Kong has existed for a millennium, it was officially founded in 1842 to solidify a truce between Great Britain and the Qing dynasty of China during the First Opium War. A decade after the British took control of Hong Kong, the Black Death swept into China, killing hundreds of thousands of people. It would remain part of Hong Kong’s life for a century.
During World War II, Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese. For three years and eight months the British-Chinese culture of the city was destroyed, replaced with Japanese text, language and art. The booming city of 1.6 million people was slashed to only 600,000. Japanese occupation was incredibly harsh for the Hongkongese, being the darkest part of their history. Japan ceased occupation on August 6th, 1945, in response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For forty-two more years, Hong Kong was controlled by the British, with the reunification between Hong Kong and mainland China finally occurring in 1997.