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Foraging for a feast of Brood X magic sick-aid-ahhs


20 May 2021> The much anticipated brood X are finally here! The times feel biblical, last year a global pandemic, now a plague of cicadas. For the past few weeks we've been carrying baggies w/ us when we go running or out walking but haven't seen much more than exoskeletons dangling from tree trunks. It got warm but then unseasonably cold so those that were tricked into coming out (when the soil reached 64°) seemed to have died or got eaten + the few survivors rather lethargic. About a week ago we saw our first live ones in Rock Creek, in a big open area w/ grass so maybe it was warm enough for them exposed in the sun.

molting from nymph to white-winged juve

2nd or 3rd molting to the black adult

winged adult priming his pipes to sing

1st day's harvest

flash boiled

then fried.... bug appétit!

We collected enough at least for a snack, brought them home + put 'em in the freezer to kill/dry 'em. Then we boiled them for a few minutes + then sautéed 'em up (w/ garlic, chili paste + lime) + they were quite tasty, a bit like a nutty shrimp, w/ a tinge of earthy oyster. We invited our neighbors to try 'em + 1 of them emerged w/ a glass of merlot (we'd think white or cava would be a better pairing). Our bedder-½ has a book coming out that talks about eating insects amongst other things so seems her publisher has set up all these interviews + in a few cases seems they wanted to go foraging ± or taste-testing w/ her so now the stakes were high to walk the talk! She read up on these Magicicada while we scouted out the day before to collect some + find the best hunting grounds. By now we're realizing that the best place to find the nymphs (that are best for eating) are in the morning at the base of trees before they climb up + start the molting process (the 1st day we brought back a few from the various stages but the adults didn't look so appetizing + the few we cooked that were starting too molt weren't so tasty... best to get them right when they come out of the ground). We had some stiff competition, seems everybody wants to eat the poor little fellas... birds, squirrels, dogs, ants, etc. We saw 1 wasp sucking on the head of 1 while it was still alive. Another nymph we saw was trying to go back into it's hole like it didn't like the looks of things in the outside world. There's even a fungus that eats cicadas alive, turning them into sex-crazed zombies, 1st digesting their genitals + butt then "a behavior-altering amphetamine in the fungus takes over their brains and encourages them to ignore the fact that half their bodies are missing" + turns males into female impersonators so they can spread the fungus when other males try to hump on what's left of their fungus-ridden body... isn't nature cool? Think about it, these creatures live 17 years underground sucking on sap from the tree roots + then they all emerge at the same time to molt into these strange red-eyed winged resonators that climb up the tree + sing at 100 decibels to attract a mate (haven't heard any singing yet). No wonder they're scientific name is "magic cicadas"... what must that be like for them, to live in the dirt sucking on a tree root for 17 years + then risk sure death to emerge for a week long orgy w/ trillions of other sick-aid-ahhs?

nymph pre-molting (the 1s u want to eat)

sap goes in 1 end + leaves the other

sick-aid-ahh bush

pausing to reflect on the shell of it's previous self

decaying exoskeletons at base of tree

them's good eatin'

This morning 1st our bedder-½ met w/ NPR under a tree in Rock Creek + talked about the cicadas in the context of sustainable food sources, climate change, etc. while we foraged. Then we came home + a CNN crew came into our house. 1st they interviewed our bedder-½ in our living room + then they went down into our kitchen to film her cooking some up. If u have cable it should be on tomorrow night or sometime next week. She was also on the local news + tomorrow night is on CBS national news.

the interview

cooking them up for the camera

taste test

879 <(current)> 881> Brood X2—collecting + cooking cicadas 101
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