Chicago Sun Times (IL)
Copyright 2007 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.
May 22, 2007
Cepeda Vs. Cicada; Fed up with the bugs, Sun-Times reporter decides she has the stomach to take one on
I pencilled it in for the afternoon -- a hot lunch date: Ms. Cepeda and Mr. Cicada.
I jumped at the chance to eat one of these pesky insects that every 17 years squirm out of their crunchy exoskeletons, wet and sticky, to burden us with their multi-membranous mating calls just to get busy.
Our rhyming, ultra-alliterative names and the attendant silly Cicada-Cepeda refrains they elicit left a bad taste in my mouth last time around so I thought a little payback was in order.
Besides, people in Mexico eat insects all the time; they'll chow grasshoppers, scorpions -- they're high in protein, just ask Rick Bayless about it. So cicadas? Not kosher, but still no biggie.
I could have followed any one of the many recipes to be found on the Internet: cicada pizza, cicadas sauteed in garlic and butter, cicada tacos, cicada gumbo, cicada cookies, cicada bread.
All cicada-licious, but in the spirit of organic freshness, I thought I'd go au naturel.
Before it met my molars, the cicada -- freshly plucked from its home in south suburban Flossmoor, then generously donated by a co- worker -- sat on my desk, humping a lone green leaf and loudly flapping its strong wings mere inches away from its discarded exoskeleton, not a care in the world.
Its brethren are already poking out in River Forest, La Grange, Brookfield and Palos Heights, building up to the big buzz they generate three to five days after they emerge.
To get the full effects of what an unsuspecting person might experience in their yard I spent some quality time letting it tread its sticky, hairy legs on my crawling flesh. It flapped in my hair, eliciting a reflexive swat that almost prematurely did it in.
It struggled valiantly and strongly in my fingers -- antennae flailing, big red beady eyes bright -- before the big gulp.
Once in my mouth it only got off a few hairy-legged kicks before one decisive crunch did it in. Bye-bye!
Papery and bland, it was not gooey-sour and far less crunchy than I'd imaged. Hardly worth the sensation of feeling it slide -- quasi- flapping -- down my esophagus followed by a chaser of Diet Coke.
Next time I think I'll try the garlic and butter.