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This eatery serves insect-only dishes. Dare to try?

September 06, 2019 08:32 IST

Forget tofu or soy milk. Entrepreneurs out of South Africa have opened a pop-up restaurant dedicated to serving gourmet meals, all made from alternative, insect-based ingredients.

Welcome to The Insect Experience which opened in Cape Town last month. Customers are treated to dishes like chickpea black-fly-larvae croquettes, polenta fries made from mopane worm flour and mealworm biscuits.

Take a look.

All photographs: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters

"Insect Experience" is the first restaurant in South Africa to serve insect-only meals. It's headed by Chef Mario Barnard along with a local start-up called Gourmet Grubb who turn black soldier fly larvae into protein powder and milk, which can be used to make insect-based ice cream.

Chef Mario Barnard scoops out a handful of Black soldier fly larvae at the Insect Experience Restaurant in Cape Town. There are more than 1,900 known edible insect species consumed around the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Food scientist Leah Bessa (one of the people involved in the pop-up) said that edible insects are incredibly healthy -- they're high in protein, high in iron and zinc, high in fibre, and they have a healthy fat profile.

Diners at "Insect Experience" can tuck into mopane polenta fries with tomato chilli chutney or black soldier fly butternut ravioli with roasted chilli garlic sauce, both reasonably priced at 50 rand a meal.

Tagliatelle alla insetto, a pasta dish made with homemade Black soldier fly larvae flour, wheat and basil pesto prepared by Chef Mario Barnard at the Insect Experience Restaurant.

Adventurous customers can try small bowls of insects, including mealworms, as well as larger dried mopane worms, which are already considered a delicacy in some African countries.

When asked about the idea behind the restaurant, Mario Barnard said he was "grossed out" and did not entirely enjoy eating grilled scorpions and crunchy insects mixed with garlic and spices on a trip to Thailand four years ago. However, the experience inspired him to start experimenting with insect-based meals.

Customer Gosiame Makoe tastes a Mopane worm at the Insect Experience Restaurant. So we ask you, would you dare to eat this kind of meal?