My childhood was a strange time. Most of my memories revolve around the fact that we had a computer, which was pretty crazy for a family to have in 1996. I was in love with it, learned the intricacies of how it worked and most importantly, got my first taste of video games. Even the most seasoned gamers would struggle to remember cult classic Bug!, one of the first 3-D platformers out there, initially released for the Sega Saturn but eventually ported to PC to reach a larger audience. The short explanation of the game is that you’re a movie star-bug who travels from scene to scene stomping baddies and saving the day. My young mind was enticed by this game, and I still remember the sprites in it to this day, beautifully rendered bugs with bright vivid colors. My 7-year-old brain could only think of one thing, seeing them: I want to eat those bugs. I didn’t normally want to eat bugs, but in this world, they were so colorful and dare I say... juicy, that you couldn’t not think about it. Thankfully, 23 years later, TasteABQ Biopark Catering has me covered with their Destination Dinner, Fine Dining with the Bugs.
Little did they know in creating this event that they would stir within me these ancient feelings. This want for bug flesh (carapace?) has been lying dormant for over two decades, and now it rises from its slumber, bringing me with it. I, like many others, shall descend upon the Albuquerque BioPark Botanical Garden on Saturday, Oct. 26, and when the doors open at 5:30pm, my ticket ($55 for adults, $35 for kids) shall grant me entrance to a world of bug-centric snacks and dinners. Like locusts, we shall consume our way across the park, clearing off trays with a hunger unmatched, voraciously enjoying the food laid out by staff at Bugarium. So, as you and your childhood fantasies also awaken, let me fill you in on what is to come.
Your ticket entry buys you access to three things within the park—no more, no less. The first is that you will enjoy hors d’oeuvres highlighting the importance of sustainable protein through bugs. If the idea of eating cricket flour sends chills down your spine, then perhaps this event is not for you, though arguably it should be said it is most for you. As we look to the despicable dangers of unsustainable farming and agriculture that contribute to a darker future, alternative sources of food are becoming of greater importance every day. According to Jiminy.com, “crickets provide more essential amino acids pound for pound than beef,” which is good news all around. Additionally, with the ease at which they grow and are farmed, along with the lower emissions they create, it becomes a highly sustainable source of protein that can be ethically raised.
The second part of your ticket includes listening to talks from the park’s entomologists about their live collection, including tarantulas, scorpions, goliath beetles, giant stick insects, millipedes and giant grubs. Education is always important, and the rule of thumb our mothers enforced on us about “Know what you’re putting in your body” couldn’t be more clear. Learning about the bugs on display and on dis-plate gives you the knowledge you need to further educate those around you, helping make you an informed consumer (of bugs). Plus, who hasn’t wanted to know more about giant stick insects? What classifies them as giant? Are they rideable? Will they be benevolent when humanity falls and bugs rule the world? Only the professional entomologists will know for sure.
Finally, you will be treated to a buffet dinner next door at the Shark Reef Cafe. Some dishes will include insects as a protein, so you can sate that thirst for bugs in more ways than one. Life is about growth, continual and ever-changing. To say you won’t try food made of bugs because the idea scares you is to pretend that eating any form of meat-based protein isn’t just as terrible, if you truly think about it. Just as you’ve never found a cow leg in your hamburger, you too shall not find cricket legs in your brownies. To learn more about the event or to join me in my quest to finally silence the demons of my childhood, you can visit the ABQ Biopark’s website or call them at 768-2000. Let us solve this agony, once and for all!