What to drink with bugs?

We didn't envy the Koh-Lanta candidates, yet the insects have become trendy! Rumour even has it that beef will soon disappear from our plates, replaced by these not-so-pretty arthropods. Without red meat on the menu, what about wine? Would we be condemned to drink grass smoothies to accompany these crispy critters?

Silkworms, a "delicacy" in South Korea

Before getting to the heart of the matter, allow me a little anecdote. The first time I had to taste insects was a few years ago. A friend had brought me a present from a trip to the East: a tin can containing silkworm dodus (or silkworm larvae). A delicacy in South Korea! At last, it seems.

Curious, but unaware of the culinary practices associated with this dish, I opened the box in good company and tasted, without any preparation, one of these not very tasty creatures. If the flabby texture did not leave me a perishable memory, it is not the case with the odour, mephitic, disgusting, that I associate today with formalin or the smells of animals preserved for dissection.

Jimini's, grilled insects prepared with love

In short, no wine for this kind of horror, I thought, but alcohol, strong enough to blind you and burn your taste buds, if not to camouflage the odors. Something based on snakes, bees or seahorses...

Then, long afterwards, I learned that this kind of animal was eaten fried, or grilled, or even sautéed, but certainly not plain. So we had to start all over again.

That's where the little guys from Les Grappes come in, who offer me to taste test again insects, to prepare a chronicle of food and wine pairing. They tasted grilled insects lovingly prepared by startup Jimini's.

On the menu are two species and three different recipes: flour worms (Molitor) and grilled locusts, seasoned with spice mixes. At first glance, the smell was rather neutral, a good point, despite the still unattractive appearance of insects. So let's move on to the smells or aromas mainly due to spices. To give you an idea, you see the aperitif biscuits like mini pizzas or curly soufflés?

It's basically the same thing.

Texture level, idem; a small TUC side for the Molitors, salted wafers for the locusts. The wings are like antennae for shrimps, some people like them, but they can be removed. Finally, add a good dose of salt and spices more or less strong depending on the recipe chosen.

What to drink with ? Essence of turpentine?

So I come to the essential... What to drink with ? Cola? essence of turpentine? grandpa's hooch? And why not wine?

The idea is to play on the balance between flavours / aromatic power / occasion, i.e.: salty & spicy, strong and aperitif... Spices will accentuate the alcoholic side of the wines, and easily provoke a burning sensation. Salt, on the other hand, tends to make the wines less fruity, supple or sweet. Finally, the aromatic power may smother a delicate wine.

The equation seems quite simple to me, so I would opt for an aperitif wine without any headache, very fragrant, rather fruity with a spicy touch, not too alcoholic. So, if you like it, prefer a slightly sweet wine, such as a Cabernet d'Anjou rosé, a Coteaux de l'Aubance, a Clairette de Die, a mellow Bergerac, or any other wine of the same kind.

And bon appétit of course!

Jules Lamon (Les Grappes)

You might like...