Business

Tarantula-Topped Burgers A Big Hit, People Line Up To Try Them

DURHAM, NC β€” Some scientists suggest we’ll all be eating insects and spiders in about 50 years as population growth outpaces the supply of more traditional food sources. So we may as well get ready for big dietary changes, and a Durham burger restaurant and brewery has just the ticket β€” burgers topped with big, fat, hairy and, you might say, creepy tarantulas.

No, really, it’s true. You can get a chance to gobble them up at Bull City Burger and Brewery, which is offering the arachnid-topped sandwich as part of its Exotic Meat Month celebration. Burgers made of meats from around the world will be featured throughout April.

“There’s two kinds of people, those who will and those who won’t,” restaurant owner Seth Gross told Patch. “Other people say they’re up for anything β€” ‘I love a challenge; I never met a meat I wouldn’t eat.’

“It’s really about celebrating food diversity,” Gross said. “Some people think eating cows, chicken and pork is weird. Who are we to judge?”

Quantities of edible tarantulas are limited, so the restaurant put a raffle system in place for chances to eat the delicacy-topped burger. And tarantulas are definitely that, Gross said.

So what do they taste like? Gross says they’re “kind of like shrimp,” and have “the same iodin-y crunchiness you get if you bite into a little bit of the tail.”

“The body is a little more liver-y,” he said.

The burgers, which cost $30, are made of 100 percent North Carolina pasture-raised beef and are topped with Gruyere cheese, an oven-roasted tarantula and spicy chili sauce on a fresh, house-baked bun with a side of Dirty Fries.

People who eat the whole thing get a T-shirt that says “I survived the tarantula challenge.” An 11-year-old girl was vying for one when Patch spoke to Gross.

Some other entrΓ©es during Exotic Meat Month, now in its seventh year, have included camel and kangaroo burgers, wild-caught turtle meat gumbo on a bed of steamed white rice and a python meat curry, also served over rice. Bug burgers were a big hit, too, Gross said.

Tarantula-Topped Burgers A Big Hit, People Line Up To Try Them
The bug burger was a 100 percent North Carolina pasture-raised beef burger with Gruyere cheese, chili piquin and guacamole topped with seasoned, edible bugs and served on our fresh, house-baked bun. (Photo courtesy of Bull City Burger and Brewery)

The tarantula burger has been offered three times in past years, but “just exploded this year,” Gross said. “I’m not sure why β€” maybe because it’s Friday the 13th.”

Entomophagy, the consumption of insects, is a common practice for about 2 billion people who regularly eat beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps and ants. About 1,900 species of insects are edible, according to iflscience.com.

“It’s normal for us to eat meat all day, but in a lot of places, bugs are the main protein source,” Gross said.

And you may already be eating bugs without knowing it, according to the FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook, especially in beer, where 2,500 aphids per 10 grams of hops is an acceptable limit. Canned fruit juices can contain one maggot per 250 milligram, curry powder is allowed up to 100 insect fragments (head, body and legs) per 25 grams and chopped dates are allowed 10 whole dead insects.

Insects are not only sustainable and a good source of jobs and income in impoverished areas, but also nutritious, scientists say. They are high in fat, protein, vitamins, fiber and minerals at rates comparable to meats and fish.

Photos courtesy of Bull City Burger and Brewery

Tarantula-Topped Burgers A Big Hit, People Line Up To Try Them

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