WSJ, NYT on the Bug-Eating Foodies of Brooklyn

Which paper had the better headline for its Bug-eating: Not just for hungry people in faraway places anymore? story: The New York Times, in today’s Dining section, with, “Waiter There’s Soup in My Bug”; or, the Wall Street Journal, on A1 last week, with, “Would you Like Flies With That? Bug Eaters Try to Get Some Buzz. Foodies Sample Insect Fare, But It’s a Slow Crawl; Waxworm Potato Fritters”?

The Journal wins on cringe-making word play (beyond the headline, in the piece itself someone says, “Bug Appetit!”). The Times story wins on cringe-making anecdote. No, not the part where someone describes eating “a custard studded with river worms” (“This big handful was dumped into the casserole, and the worms just went crazy, they were thrashing in the milk and the custard was flying out of the thing. It was actually delicious. It was like a quiche with little bits of very tender bacon in it.”) The part where the San-Francisco-based chef and artist who put together the $85-per-head, five-course bug-tasting event at the Brooklyn Kitchen over the weekend (mentioned in the Journal and a main focus of the Times piece) describes the first time he “brought a group of San Franciscans together to chow down on cooked insects a year ago, and he was surprised when the guests started buzzing around him for raw samples.”

“I was like, ‘O.K., go for it.’ And then that just led to this very weird erotism moment when people were practically hugging each other while eating these live insects.” The spirit of the moment overflowed, leading, in a few cases, to groping and kissing in a corner.

And, on locating the bug-eating Brooklynite with the most precious name? Tie. The Journal spoke to an artist named Summer Wheat; the Times mentions a baby named Moxie. The Times also mentions that “bugs are already part of the human diet in most places with widespread hunger.” But now, in Williamsburg. With yucca frites. Or, as the Journal put it, “There’s some evidence [bug-eating is] spreading to a hipper crowd.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.