Locusts are surprisingly nutritious and considered a delicacy by many in Kuwait but not everyone is enamoured by the crunchy culinary offering.
Moudi al-Miftah, a 64-year-old journalist who writes a weekly newspaper column awaits winter every year to stock up on locusts, which she cooks herself, with a preference for crispiness. But most of Miftah’s loved ones stopped eating the bugs long ago.
Locust consumption is dwindling across Kuwaiti society, particularly among the younger generation, many of whom are disgusted by the prospect.
Locusts are consumed in many parts of the world and are a staple of some cuisines.
Experts say they are an excellent, energy-efficient source of protein. In Kuwait, they retain a sturdy fan base among older citizens.
The first shipments, imported from Saudi Arabia, arrive in markets in January, transported in distinctive red bags weighing 250 grams (nine ounces).
They are stocked alongside white desert truffles, another delicacy sought by Kuwaitis in winter at the Al-Rai market nestled in an industrial area in the northwest of Kuwait City.
‘Stockpiling for next year’
Mohammed al-Awadi, a 70-year-old Kuwaiti, has delivered locusts to retailers for many years and keeps a handy supply of the dried insects in his pocket for snacking.
Authorities have sought in vain to ban the consumption of locusts over fears they could be contaminated. Locusts can rapidly multiply and form swarms that damage crops, forcing some countries to tackle them with pesticides.
Adel Tariji, who has sold locusts since he was 18, said that despite reticence from some, he had seen glimmers of interest from health-conscious younger buyers. They are more willing to pay higher prices because they are convinced of the benefits of eating “all-natural” products, he said.
“Some people are even stockpiling for next year out of fear that there will be no locusts next season.”