Cicada fettuccine: Preparing Brood X to eat with OSU’s ‘BugDoc Dave’

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The consensus was they tasted like pumpkin seeds, and there was no getting past the texture of wings and tiny legs.

But a couple of crunches, a swallow, and a swig of water, and you’re ready for the next forkful.

Dr. David Shetlar, Professor Emeritus at the Ohio State University, and artist and forager Simon La Bozetta met on Wednesday with NBC4i’s digital reporter Cynthia Rosi at Highbanks Metro Park.

Dr. Shetlar brought ingredients from his garden: garlic ramps, snow peas, and sage fried up with a tablespoon of bacon fat, and another of butter. But the star of the show was cicadas that he’d gathered in Delaware County off of Winter Road a few days before, newly-emerged, and popped into the freezer for storage.

“My normal preference is to get rid of the wings,” said Dr. Shetlar. “The other thing is if you’ll notice all of these…are females. They are full of eggs. The eggs have lipids and carbohydrates in them. What I’ve got is a female with a packet of lipid and carbohydrate in her, and then her thorax is where all the muscles are, those are the proteins.”

A bit of crunch, a bit of wing…hey, is that a leg between my teeth? But for people worried about allergies to cicadas, Dr. Shetlar has a word of advice.

“As a biologist, shellfish to me are oysters, clams, the mollusks. But for some reason people consider shellfish also to be shrimp and lobsters. No, those are two different fila of organisms. The proteins in their meats are very different. It’s generally the proteins that you’re allergic to. ..if you are allergic to lobsters and shrimp, these are arthropods, and lobsters and shrimps are arthropods, so they could have similar proteins.

“Go light, take only a bite,” Dr. Shetlar said.

Forager Simon thought mushrooms would go well with the dish. “I forage for a lot of wild mushrooms. chicken of the woods, or oyster mushrooms. We have five different kinds of oyster mushrooms in our area. Any of them would go really well with that.”

Always be aware when foraging, particularly for mushrooms, to take someone with many years of successful foraging experience. There are no labels for poisonous items in the woods, and beginners can be fooled by lookalikes with life-threatening results.

Cicada Fettuccine:

Heat 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon bacon fat to frying temperature. Fry in the pan with garlic, diced garlic scapes. Add a half cup of snow peas, cut into thirds. When the garlic is fragrant, add about 30 cicadas, and stir.

When the vegetables are al dente, add half a jar of pasta Alfredo sauce. Coat thoroughly. Add one cup of cooked fettuccine. Serves three as a side dish, two as a main dish.

Allergy warning: Some people who are allergic to the shrimp family may also have a cicada allergy, so those people should avoid eating cicadas.

Buon Appetite!

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