Belfast Telegraph

Pestaurant: Would you eat spicy worms or bugs in chocolate?

By Linda Stewart

When you're trying to satisfy those mid-morning cravings, a packet of roasted locusts or Mexican spiced mealworms might not be the first things you'd reach for.

But Belfast's latest pop-up foodie hotspot is offering some free snacks next week – with an invertebrate twist.

Rentokil is bringing its 'Pestaurant' to Writer's Square in the Cathedral Quarter next Wednesday, where it will be serving up delicacies such as Cheddar cheese mealworms and scorpion lollipops in a bid to bring some fun to pest control.

And they sent us some free samples of their treats – so we headed out on to the streets of Belfast to see who was game to try one.

Passing round the snacks in the office beforehand, we found the Cheddar cheese mealworms reminiscent of very small Wotsits, but the salt and vinegar crickets were earthy and dry in flavour, leaving you convinced for hours afterwards that you had a lodged wing tickling your throat.

Artist and singer-songwriter Michael Collins (31), from Newtownabbey, agreed, saying he thought he had a bit of antenna stuck in his throat. "There's a wee bit stuck," he said.

But his colleague at Limitless event design, Ciaran Larkin (31), had a more pleasurable experience with the chocolate-covered mixed insects.

"That is really good – it's like cereal. It's lovely," he said. "There's a wee bit of an aftertaste. We could become bug-themed superheroes."

Meanwhile, a 15-year-old boy from Portrush, who was happy to try the BBQ mealworms but didn't want to be photographed, commented: "You'd think there would be more innards."

South Belfast student John Bailie (21) also tried the BBQ mealworms but wasn't at all impressed.

"You can taste the skin – it's not very nice," he said.

"I wouldn't go out of my way for them. There's not much flavour to it."

But his friend Jonathan Sung (21), a student, fared better with the sour cream and onion crickets.

"Not bad. It's good – I like it. If there was a big packet I guess I might buy it," he said.

Fashion textile student Sophie Rathfield (20) sampled the chocolate-covered insects but came close to retching.

"I'm all for trying stuff, but the texture... I'll pass on it," she said. "The chocolate was grand but, you know, like popcorn? Obviously I got a bit of the shell of the insect."

And 63-year-old retired businessman John Israel Robinson, from Finaghy, was the only one of our food tasters who had tried edible insects before, having sampled chocolate-covered grasshoppers in California. He went for the salt and vinegar crickets this time.

"It does taste good, but it's just the thought and it's the psychology," he said. "Our culture is not inclined to eat insects, but there are some Asian countries and parts of Latin America where they eat almost anything.

"I've seen in Africa where they cooked a rat and ate it.

"They leave the hair on and they leave the guts in the rat and they put it on the fire and the hair is burning off it.

"This didn't taste bad, but it's just the thought of it."

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