“Out in the West Texas town of El Paso I fell in love with an edible bug…”
This weekend’s edible insect tasting at the El Paso Zoo Bug Fest was a smash hit thanks to the dedication of executive chef Miguel Guillen and entomophagist extraordinaire Bob Gable. Tucked away in the sleepy border town of El Paso, TX is one of the nation’s longest running edible insect festivals. The El Paso Zoo bug fest began in 2004 thanks to the vision of Bob Gables and has been growing in popularity every year. It is now one of the biggest events held at the El Paso Zoo. The Bug Fest’s $1200 edible insect budget fed over 400 people and crafted an extensive menu:
Ant Caviar | Texas Grasshopper Crostini
Toasted Cicada Salad | Sweet Cricket Popcorn
Whole Insect Sampler | Cricket Chip Cookies
Having attended edible insect festivals in mega food trend cities like Austin, I was thoroughly impressed by the community enthusiasm for edible insects in El Paso. With temperatures at nearly 100 degrees, Bug Fest goers waited in line for over an hour for just 2 insect appetizers per person! The food was delicious, children were excited, and adults were asking for seconds.
Something special is going on in El Paso. When I first moved here I was a little bit worried about my decision as no one I spoke with seemed to be interested in the idea of eating insects. Therefore, I was really surprised to see a Bug Fest on the events calendar and blown away by the scale of avid attendance. Chatting with the El Paso Zoo Bug Fest crowd I soon realized that the reason no one is excited about entomophagy is because it’s not a new concept. El Paso is 83% Hispanic with extensive family and cultural ties to Mexico which is less than a 30 min walk from most of El Paso. Residents already have a cultural connection to entomophagy via Chapulines and Escamoles that transcends the efforts of even the best cricket powder peddler.
El Paso and other forgotten border towns have long been overlooked as early adopters of entomophagy. Bugs are booming in more places than Austin, New York and San Francisco. The El Paso Zoo Bug Fest proved this weekend that the Southwestern regions of the US are prime entomophagy real estate. Excited about frontera food? Dont forget to check out recipes for this weekend’s Wax Worm Wonton Chips and Spicy Chapulines Tostadas recipes courtesy of executive chef Miguel Guillen.
For next year’s El Paso Zoo Bug Fest, check out their events page…