Why Italian? Three reasons: Firstly, we wanted to take on the challenge of incorporating insects into the cuisine of a European country, since Europe is the one continent that lacks a history of entomophagy*. Secondly, Rome, Italy, was the location of the 2012 landmark FAO conference on entomophagy (which resulted in the publication of recent comprehensive FAO report on global entomophagy and food and feed security). Third and finally, tomatoes are a key ingredient in Italian cuisine. Why is this important? Because tomatoes are rich in glutamate, and are therefore often enhanced with small amounts of inosinate-rich foods such as anchovies or sardines to create a more intense umami taste. In this way, we hope to use insects as an inosinate-rich ingredient that will deepend the taste of typical Italian cuisine.
*(There are a few exceptions to this: For example, Casu Marzu is an Italian cheese that contains live fly larvae, which are eaten with the cheese; A similar example is found in the German cheese Milbenkase, containing live cheese mites.)
Crushing wasp larvae with a pestle and mortar.
Two pasta dishes (Tomato basil sauce enhanced with red wine-infused silkworm pupae; soy based cream herb sauce enhanced with crushed wasp larvae) and aubergine parmigiana (also using wine-infused crushed silkworm pupae), served with `wine that goes well with insects`(!).
Adding grasshoppers (lightly fried with herbs and garlic) to a pizza topped with silkworm tomato sauce and grilled vegetables.
Dolce: Vanilla infused `pannacotta` made using agar-agar, fresh soy milk, and topped with wasp larvae sauteed in honey.