It’s like this: try anything new at least twice. That’s Nan’s rule, and her reasons are simple. She was born in a time where supermarket wasn’t part of the vocab; a world recession made it impossible to do more than survive with what you had (and you needed friends as well); food came from your own endeavor. Yes, she survived the 1920’s, with a gaggle of kids, and to her it wasn’t that long ago. The lessons stuck. Hard, because people died, people wandered the dusty trail looking for something, anything to do, just so they could eat.
At least she lived on a small landholding – not a farm! Just enough for a few fruit trees (watered from the once a week bathwater and fed by the almost-wild chooks), two small patches for veges (fenced in to stop the plague of rabbits and thieves of the two-legged variety), and many insects. People look askance when she mentions some of these things. Crickets – good food, she says. They are. Excellent food.
Always try something new at least twice, she says. Why? These are her reasons: The first time it may have been too different for the taster to truly accept; it may have been the ‘one’ with the bad bit; it may have been cooked improperly (she always looked at me when she said that!); it may not be representative of the best (green, or under-age or over-ripe/age/etc.). That first taste may not have been the best option. Make your first opinion the temporary one.
So, try it at least twice. That became my motto. Always give it a second go. And the things I’ve eaten when we were hungry as kids? Snails (you do have to prepare them for at least 10 days before you cook ’em), and they’re okay. Crickets (you catch them during the swarms with the same tools people use for butterflies, but bigger), they’re great, especially fried in butter (crunchy!). Frogs (with the local kids, and only at a particular time of year), and I didn’t like it because I like frogs in my garden keeping the other insects at bay (mozzies!). Lizards – only the bigger ones – and cooked like the local indigenous people. Good tucker, and worthy opponents because they can run, they can scratch and bite, and they’re pretty smart. ‘Roos – a very rich and lean meat, and one ‘roo fed the whole family for a month.
There’s lots of other stuff, and a warning never goes astray: never try something unless you know it’s not toxic or downright poisonous. Some flora (and some fauna, and some insects, and some reptiles, and some funghi, etc. etc.) shouldn’t be eaten. Ask the locals, ask the indigenous peoples, ask the specialists. But don’t look down your nose at the things you haven’t tried. At least twice.
And that’s the warm-up writing practice for the day – now to work!