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Hoxton’s pop-up answer to I’m A Celebrity will serve beetle larvae, meal worms, crickets and grasshoppers

Neil and Shami Neil and Shami

Sunday, March 2, 2014
8:03 PM

Beetle larvae, meal worms, crickets and grasshoppers are gracing the menu at Hoxton’s answer to the Bushtucker Trials next week.

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Crispy citrus insect noodlesCrispy citrus insect noodles

The unusual insect-themed menu at the pop-up restaurant at Moniker’s, Hoxton Square, would not be out of place on an episode of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. It has been put together by Grub, a Hackney-based company specialising in edible bugs.

Set up by Shami Radia and Neil Whippey, the pair have tapped into the insect-eating – or entomophagy – revolution after hearing how people all over the world were getting plenty of protein by eating what they regard as tasty insects, and having less impact on the planet as a result.

After carrying out tasting sessions with friends and family as guinea pigs, the couple are now ready to unleash their menu on the wider public.

Mr Radia, who used to work for the Water Aid, came across insect eating on a trip to Malawi, where he witnessed children 
frantically trying to catch flying termites.

Shami eating crickets in CambodiaShami eating crickets in Cambodia

“I wondered why and then I realised it’s a tasty snack for them,” said Mr Radia, who lives near Shoreditch Park.

Protien

“I didn’t think anything more about it until I read in the National Geographic about their nutritional value.

“They are high in protein, calcium and iron and gram for gram they are more nutritious than a lot of our staple meats. Then I read how sustainable and environmentally friendly they are to farm, and it made sense,” he added. “We all know our Earth’s resources are limited and we aren’t doing anything about it. We are most guilty in the West for consumption of red meat, which produces methane.

“If people ate insects once a week it could save precious resources.”

The only hurdle they now have is persuading people in the West to eat the little critters.

“I’m not the most squeamish when it comes to eating food but it’s a big step for a Westerner to eat insects: our sensibilities stop us from eating them, they are seen as taboo,” he said.

I’m A Celebrity makes us think insects are all gooey and slimey, but really they all taste like different types of nuts.

“Buffalo worms taste like roasted almonds and they are crispy. Grasshoppers are the biggest insects we serve, and because of the exo-skeleton they taste like shrimp. Indigenous 
native Americans used to call them sky prawns.”

Mr Radia believes Hoxton is the perfect place to launch the concept. “If it’s marketed in the right way there’s no reason why it can’t work, especially in Hackney, where people are open-minded and like trying new things. I really do think it could take off.”

A top Thai chef has helped create the seven-course menu, which 
includes crispy insect noodles, crickets in hoi sin sauce with sticky rice, deep fried crickets with pandanas leaves and meal worm rice cakes.

The pop-up runs from Wednesday until Saturday with tickets priced at £36.50.

For more information see eatgrub.co.uk.

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