The Best Bug Meal in Town

It’s hard to get a good insect meal in Chicago these days.

Sticky Rice (4018 N. Western Ave.) has officially stopped serving its famous ant-egg omelet, citing lack of demand. Fried grasshoppers, or chapulines, have been cut from menus at Mezcalina (333 E. Benton Pl., Suite 100) and Tepatulco (2558 N. Halsted St.). None of this should be a big surprise—it’s not easy to source insects approved for human consumption. (Home cooks can take their chances with orders of crickets and other critters sold as animal feed at pet stores.)

But for those in search of food novelty, Four Belly (3227 N. Clark St.) has an answer.

four-belly_600c390

When I think caterpillars, I think long and squiggly. Luckily, the fried caterpillars from the Street Snacks section of Four Belly’s menu won’t inspire any mental comparisons to earthworms. The “caterpillars” are actually silkworm pupae, which are legless, eyeless, and cashew-shaped. Tossed with lemongrass and served piping hot, the toasted bugs look a lot more enticing than you’d think.

When you pop them in your mouth, their soft, un-crunchy exoskeletons burst open, releasing a starchy fluid that coats the tongue—unspun silk proteins, our waitress told us. Yum.

Though the charm wore off a little once the bugs cooled down, this is one insect snack that I would eat again. I hope it stays on the menu long enough for me to do so.

Photo credit: Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon