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The best thing about summer is ice cream, and the worst thing about summer is bugs.
So what happens when best meets worst? A cold, sweet concoction that took some courage to actually taste.
Yes, grasshopper ice cream is a real thing you can buy. This terrible, wonderful concoction is sold at a Mexican dessert spot La Newyorkina, around the corner from Washington Square Park. Don’t worry, the ice cream isn’t actually made of insects. These tiny creepy crawlers, called chapulines, are used as toppings. A strange substitute for regular old sprinkles.
La Newyorkina Founder Fany Gerson told Grubstreet that grasshoppers are a popular snack in her native Oaxaca. Putting them on her menu was both authentic and relatively healthy; “this is a way to keep everything we do natural.”
But are these grasshopper ice cream toppers tasty? I visited La Newyorkina and tasted the little bugs to find out.
La Newyorkina has a variety of Mexican inspired ice cream flavors, and more classic toppings (spicy candied pepitas, toasted coconut and brownie chunks to name a few.) But I was there for one reason only. I ordered a handmade cup-cone with vanilla chili ice cream, chipotle hot fudge and chapulines.
Before taking the plunge, I asked the ice cream scooper, Lulu, what the grasshoppers tasted like.
“They’re really salty and crunchy,” she said.
I asked her if they were a popular choice or if she herself ate them.
“Not really,” she admitted.
But she explained that the novelty factor made them a popular choice for customers: “A lot of people are like ‘when am I ever going to have grasshoppers!?’”
The ice cream itself was delicious. Not too sweet, and a spicy overtone because of the chili. Same goes for the cone and the Chipotle hot fudge: both were top notch.
As for the chapulines? They were certainly salty and crunchy. The initial flavor wasn’t bad, but if I didn’t have ice cream and fudge to drown it out, the aftertaste was, well, buggy.
They weren’t gross, but they also weren’t tasty enough to leave me craving more grasshoppers. I’m more a candied nuts kind of gal.
Sure, bugs aren’t my thing, but insects are scarfed down all over the world in many different forms. Plus food experts have lauded insects as the next great culinary frontier—a sustainable, protein-packed option that can revolutionize food preparation.
Amy Shapiro, the founder of Real Nutrition NYC, said flies can make for healthy feasts. She says, “they are loaded with fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and they contain a hefty amount of fiber.”
She goes on: “There’s a way to make almost anything taste delicious, so if it’s good for me and the environment, what could be better?”
Shapiro warns that for those of us who didn’t grow up eating bugs, our stomachs aren’t accustomed to digesting them, so we should go slow and not overdo it with huge portions from the get go.
I think I can oblige.