“Bugging in” is a term that Preppers use to describe sheltering in place – staying at home during a potentially threatening situation. It’s the opposite of “bugging out”, where you grab your pre-packed bag of essentials and leave home to find a more secure location to weather the storm. 

Since we’ve all, essentially, been bugging in for weeks now, it seemed like a good time to return to a project that I set aside last year – eating insects. Research suggests that insects are a low-carbon protein source that could feed us without wrecking the planet. And there are suggestions that astronauts living on Mars will need to rely on insects as part of their home-grown diet.

If you’re fighting a gag reflex right now, you probably grew up in a white, Western culture. Eating insects has been part of our history since the human race evolved, and insects are still on the menu across much of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Main course

I’ve eaten insects before, way back in 2011 at a special event at the Natural History Museum in London. (Yes, it did feel odd tucking into things they would normally put on display.) Edible insects were hard to get hold of back then, but they’re more widely available now. 

We’ve tried cricket flour, which is just a protein-packed powder you can add to baked goods. It smells funky, but once it’s in a muffin or a loaf of bread, you really can’t tell the difference. But since Ryan had never (deliberately) eaten any insects in a more natural form, I bought some buffalo worms from Eat Grub to try.

Buffalo worms

Buffalo worms are the larvae of the darkling beetle (Alphitobius diaperinus), and they’re also known as lesser mealworms. The Eat Grub packet proclaimed ours were “ready to cook”, so I did a search for recipes. Buffalo worms are supposed to taste a bit like peanuts, so one option is using them in baked goods. I wanted something savoury, and I liked the idea of buffalo worm carrot soup and buffalo worm macaroni cheese, but I decided I would try hummus with buffalo worms.

If I have made hummus before, it was years ago, so I wouldn’t profess to be a hummus expert. However, the idea is simple enough – blend together olive oil, garlic, cooked chickpeas and tahini paste with seasonings. You can tweak the seasonings as you go along until you have a result that pleases you. This is how I made mine:

Ingredients

400g can of chickpeas
1 tbsp tahini
20g buffalo worms
Lemon juice to taste (I used 6 tbsp)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
50 ml water
50 ml olive oil
A handful of parsley (optional)

Method

  1. Blend together the olive oil, tahini, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, garlic and lemon juice until smooth.
  2. Add in the water, chickpeas and buffalo worms and blend until you’re happy with the consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Notes

I used garlic-infused olive oil, because I had the end of a bottle to use up. That meant extra-garlicky hummus! And next time I will dissolve the salt in the water to get a more even distribution. We had tahini, but peanut butter would be an acceptable substitute.

Buffalo worm hummus

And the verdict? Very nice! You’d be hard pressed to tell what the ‘secret ingredient’ was if you didn’t know. We had it for lunch with bruschetta chips and carrot sticks, and it soon disappeared. I’m not going to be rushing out to buy more buffalo worms any time soon, but homemade hummus is definitely going on our regular menu.