When traveling internationally, there is no doubt you will experience a variety of new flavors and new entrees during your adventure. When ordering from a menu at a restaurant, be certain you are familiar with the items that are incorporated into the dishes prepared for you as you may be surprised at what you find.
In some international restaurants, the use of insects is quite common and can be incorporated into an entrÃ©e without your knowledge. While considered mainstream in many international settings, tourists from the United States are often surprised to learn the content of the dishes prepared. In fact, more than 80 percent of the world’s population engages in the eating of insects, a process known as entomophagy.
When traveling to the East or South, as in France, China or Ecuador, you may find that entomophagy is quite common. In many of these countries, insects such as grasshoppers, termites, ants, beetles and even caterpillars are often incorporated into dishes and may even be eaten as snacks. It is especially common among these international travel destinations where “fusion” dishes are served as chefs are often looking for unique ways to blend food and snack items into new entrees.
While it may seem strange to many Americans, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has even advised that insects are considered a “forgotten crop”, citing their necessity in the health and diet of many disadvantaged countries. While food safety and health officials, in the United States, are not ready to support the use of insects are part of the mainstream diet, many fine dining and fusion restaurants internationally have embraced the United Nations statement and are now offering these items to their patrons.
When traveling internationally, therefore, it is important to ask the wait staff and culinary staff about the food contents incorporated into your dishes. While you may be inclined to avoid the practice of entomophagy, it is within these international travel destinations that you can actually try the variety of insects to determine if there are any that meet the pleasure of your palate.
If you are adamantly opposed to the use of insects in your meals, be certain to screen the ingredients before ordering. In many cases, international restaurants are familiar with the lack of entomophagy among American tourists and will accommodate your request to avoid the use of edible insects in your dish. The key to your healthy and enjoyable meal, when traveling, lies in your knowledge that edible insects are quite common in areas outside of the United States and you should ask questions about ingredients and meal preparation.