“Eat Bugs for $85?

Meal at Brooklyn Kitchen might bug you: caterpillars, mealworms and moth larvae are on the menu


Tuesday, September 14th 2010, 4:00 A

Most restaurants try to keep bugs out of the kitchen. One Brooklyn foodie hot spot is putting them on the menu.

The Brooklyn Kitchen is hosting a four-course dinner of creepy-crawlies on Saturday for adventurous eaters with iron stomachs.

Diners at the Williamsburg cook shop are shelling out $85 to feast on caterpillars, mealworms and moth larvae, all done up Mexican-style.

Luckily, it comes with mescal, a Mexican liquor, to wash it all down.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge to see if I can actually go through with eating it,” said Alan Smith, 27, a freelance radio producer from Prospect Heights.

Smith said he had read about bugs as an environmentally friendly alternative to meat and was curious to try them – as long as they’re not still squirming. “If it doesn’t taste good, the whole experiment is shot for me,” he said.

Fans of edible insects insist they can be a treat.

“They’re very tasty, so I want to see what everything else they’re going to serve is like,” said Rene Cervantes, 33, who signed up for the dinner because he loves the flavor of grasshoppers, which are often served in his home country of Mexico. “You have to give things a try, or you won’t know.”

About half the event’s 40 slots are filled, said Brooklyn Kitchen owner Taylor Erkkinen. “People are kind of interested, but also skeeved out,” she said.

Erkkinen isn’t so sure she’s up for it herself, but, “the mescal hopefully will help ease my introduction.”

Los Angeles-based artist Philip Ross cooked up the menu, which will include sautéed mealworms and yucca in a garlic and chipotle sauce.

The tasting is a joint venture with the nearby EyeLevel BQE Gallery, where Monica Martinez, an artist and Ross’ girlfriend, is exhibiting habitats she created for mealworms.

Fancy flavorings and booze may not be enough to tempt some New Yorkers to dine on insects.

“I can’t even eat around bugs, let alone eat bugs,” said Pedro Nieves, 22, a medical assistant trainee who flinched even at the mention of it. “I’m really grossed out by them.”

Insect cuisine isn’t quite as foreign in many cultures as it is here, and bug eating is common in places like Latin America and Asia, where people snack on locusts and even scorpions.

Sunset Park resident Denisse Sosa, 20, overcame her squeamishness about eating bugs after trying grasshoppers while visiting family in Mexico – but she’s not eager to repeat the experience.

“The legs get stuck in your throat,” Sosa said. “I don’t like that.”

The event’s price tag was what stuck in the craw of Brooklynite Carlos Echeverri, 35, who said he’d be willing to eat nearly anything but a cockroach.

“Eat bugs for $85? Probably you could just go to the park and throw them on the grill.”