The Duke - November 25, 2015

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The once welcoming cry of “grub’s up” will never be the same – and as for jokes based on “waiter there’s a fly in my soup,” just put them back in the box.

Because whilst on the Fylde coast we’ve been benefiting from the opening of (and plans for) a veritable spate of very pleasant but largely uncontroversial eateries, prompting talks of a culinary revolution, normally staid Pembrokeshire has just welcomed Britain’s first insect restaurant.

Grub Kitchen, the food equivalent wordplay of hairdressers named Curl Up & Dye, is already taking Christmas bookings from a menu made primarily from insects.

Yes, I know, in Blackpool there have been places closed down for serving insects with their food, but in the Pembrokeshire diner it’s more case of serving food with their insects.

Grub Kitchen is a partner business to the Bug Farm in Haverfordwest, south Wales, and has already won a social entrepreneur award for its chef patron Andy Holcroft.

He’s a self-confessed passionate advocate of entomophagy (eating insects) and says he has always been interested in “trying to do something different with food” and wants “to make people think about their 
food.”

Well, I’d certainly think about my food if I was served cricket crepes with bamboo worm fudge ice cream, bug blinis with wild garlic humus and toasted cumin mealworms or a bug burger blend of toasted crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers mixed with spinach, sundried tomato and seasonings.

Yep, I’d think about it then make a polite excuse and nip for a vegetarian pizza down the road.

I don’t care that almost two billion people worldwide are already estimated to tuck into about 1,900 species of insect according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation at the United Nations. I won’t be joining them.

I mean there must be almost that many people play golf but I won’t be doing that either.

In my time I’ve written a lot about food, but apart from the occasional nibble of unusually sourced and probably endangered species meat, You could say I’ve always remained fairly conventional in my tastes.

On a gourmet press trip I once truly upset the apple cart (or was it the casserole dish?) by baulking at the prospect of chomping down half a dozen escargots a la Bourguignonne. There isn’t enough garlic in the world to tempt me. And snails aren’t even insects are they?

But Andy reckons his restaurant is a step forward towards normalizing insect eating as a protein boost in the UK. After all, it’s catching on in the Netherlands.

Then again, the Dutch 
eat zillions of tons of cheese 
at every available mealtime and reckon Gouda is the best one in the world, so who are they to tell us what’s good for us?

Apparently, Andy has conducted extensive market research into what people want and his first dish was a mealworm and cricket kofte kebab followed by his signature dish of the afore mentioned bug burger. Personally, if something looks like it’s got insects in it then back to the kitchen it goes – because it’s insects.

Certainly I’d be on a loser in Grub Kitchen, and as for being tempted by treacle tart with bug brittle and hedgerow compote, it’s really no wonder that I rarely get round to the puddings when I’m eating out.

But can two billion people be wrong?

Heavens, his cricket cookies have even won Womens’ Institute members’ seal of approval.

Worryingly there is currently no UK law on how to breed insects for human consumption, but presumably you can’t just empty the vacuum cleaner and serve them up.

Grub Kitchen’s are bred in laboratories and imported from a variety of European firms, but Andy hopes to be breeding his own stock by next year.

I’ve just struck Pembrokeshire off my “must visit” destinations.

A catalogue of gifts I didn’t know I needed

I quite fancy an easy to install, elegant door canopy for Christmas.

Well, I don’t really, but it looks pretty appealing on the cover of the latest uninvited catalogue to drop through my letterbox. There’s even £20 off for a limited time and it already had me on the “easy to install” bit.

Alright, our front door is already covered but I’ve always been a sucker for catalogue promises – especially “easy to install” ones.

Reversible Furniture Protector? Bring it on. Portable Folding Pet Steps? Send me a couple, plus a pet.

How about a Thermal Insulating Tap Jacket? I just wish I had an outside tap for it to fit onto.

What about a hand held Bark Buster – “the humane way to put a stop to persistent barkers.” Maybe there’s a version for persistent cold callers too?

I went through a phase of returning to sender all unsolicited mail but found I quite missed reading about No Fog Mitts and Napkin Chains (catch food drips in style – “slips into a pocket or purse easily”).

And then there’s the Pelvic Back Belt for “instant relief from lower back pain.” No, seriously. Father Christmas can I have one? Or even two. Apparently “you don’t even know you’re wearing it.”