Throughout my childhood I had more pets than you could shake a stick at – dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats and even chinchillas. But one clearly stands out from the menagerie. At the tender age of 12 I excitedly dragged my parents to an exotic pet shop to buy an iguana: I left with a pet cockroach.
You won’t be surprised to know that a cockroach isn’t a boy’s best friend, but I was a naïve 12-year-old. Despite my best efforts, the only affection I got from Cocky came in the form of a sharp hissing noise.
When he started jumping at my face I decided it wasn’t meant to be. From that moment until his untimely death, I neglected Cocky. His life was hard, brutish and mercifully short. I am now over the guilt of neglect; after all, Cocky wasn’t a worthy ambassador for his fellow arthropods, and it is possibly his fault that, when given the opportunity, I was quite happy to consume some of his brothers and sisters: the crickets.
Perhaps you balk, or worse, at the idea of consuming insects (entomophagy), but many people outside the West think they’re the best thing since sliced bread: Colombians roast leafcutter ants, Cambodians sauté tarantulas and Thais deep fry crickets. Eating insects comes with other benefits: there are loads of them; they have lower sentience, so you should feel less guilty about eating them; many survive on waste; they can be easily farmed; and they are packed with protein.
Over the years, there have been attempts to make Westerners less squeamish about entomophagy, with the latest coming from Ento, a project by four Royal College of Art students. Grey Goose has backed Ento and other “Iconoclasts of Taste”, which led me to sip on a moreish cocktail containing crickets. I would be lying if I claimed to be able to pick out the taste of cricket beneath the cayenne and paprika, but it may have added a slightly meaty texture to the drink (whether or not you want this from a cocktail is another matter). Either way, it’s a tasty tipple but probably not one to try at home.
From 16 to 25 September, Grey Goose Entomology will be available at the Covent Garden Cocktail Club. Even though you might not be able to taste Jiminy and his cricketing cohorts, at least you’ll have a story to tell when that stalwart of awkward dinner table conversation arises: “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?” Just don’t get Cocky -- he would have tasted awful.
GREY GOOSE ENTOMOLOGY:
■ 35ml Grey Goose Le Citron
■ 15ml Cricket, cayenne and paprika syrup
■ 30ml Fresh pink grapefruit juice
■ 100ml Tonic water
■ Build all the ingredients over ice, topping up with tonic water
l Garnish with a fresh coriander sprig aromatised with cricket syrup
l Try not to think too much about what you’re making