A Trillion Cicadas, They’re What’s for Dinner

Over the next six weeks or so, a trillion cicadas will emerge across the Midwest and Southeast for a brief, raucous, once-in-a-lifetime bender.

“What an incredible time,” said Joseph Yoon, a particularly exuberant bug enthusiast who will hit the road and forage for the insects as they tunnel up in a mass emergence of two regional broods not seen since 1803. “The romance! The kismet! The synchronicity that this is all occurring in my lifetime!”

Mr. Yoon is a chef who promotes an appreciation of edible insects through his business Brooklyn Bugs.

For his ramp and cicada kimchi, he leaves the insects whole and intact in their crackling shells so they’re slowly permeated with a spicy fermenting juice, and serves it with a wobble of soft tofu and warm rice. He fries cicadas to make tempura, folds sautéed cicadas into Spanish tortillas with potato and onion, and bakes cheesy casseroles with cicada-stuffed pasta shells.

In the United States, eating insects is often sensationalized, trivialized or framed as a source of cheap protein for an end-of-the-world scenario. But for about two billion people who regularly eat insects around the world, it’s one of our oldest and most ordinary foods.

Joseph Yoon collects cicadas in a quart container, cleans them at home and keeps them in the freezer.Credit…Joseph Yoon
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