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'Cicada Invasion' Prompts Creative New Snacks

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Stephen Drake http://www.flickr.com/photos/sduck409/

Author and hunter Jack Landers has made a career of eating offbeat stuff.

"I feel creeped out looking at these cicadas and thinking I'm going to eat one of these things," he says. "I've eaten everything from armadillos to Chinese mystery snails, but this is my first time with cicadas."

He puts a dozen in the freezer to calm them before dropping the bugs into hot oil. Assisting in this culinary exercise are 6-year-old Harry Landers and his big sister Ida.

"I was the one who actually had this idea to eat cicadas," says Ida.

In another corner of the kitchen, Carlos Pizua is preparing the sandwich he calls a BLT-C. He figures the mouth feel will be perfect, with the crunch of the lettuce and the squish of the tomatoes.

Like any good chef, he samples his ingredients, putting a red-eyed bug into his mouth alive. "There's a creaminess to it, that I've gotten accustomed to," he says. "Some of the protein in the wings... this is almost like plastic."

This is not news to 12-year-old Ross Baron, another dinner guest and a student at Mountaintop Montesori. He and his teacher have been planning a class project around cooking cicadas, and Ross checked them out.

"I found it outside my classroom and just ate it raw," he says, tearing the wings and legs off, because he says they're inedible. Ross says cicadas are healthy, and "kind of a perfect choice, ya know."

Cooks have incorporated cicadas into tacos, pizza, sushi, chili, and chocolate chip cookies. Ari Daniel has even made chocolate covered cicadas.

Ari says while there are better parings for chocolate, the bugs weren't bad. And for those who don't enjoy them, there's no need to worry... they won't have to eat them again for 17 years.

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