Belinda's Bash

Belinda Naylor-Stables

There's a fly in my soup
Catching food is a subject that has kept cropping up this week. We think of catching fish – a nice salmon perhaps? But there’s a buzz in the air. Things could be changing…

When I was fifteen my father took me deep sea fishing. We set off from the Pemba Channel Fishing Club at Shimoni at about four in the morning. It was foggy and cold – and being 15 that meant I was not very happy. We set out to sea and as the sun climbed and mist dispersed the water turned from grey to electric blue. I caught a respectable 9lb dorado – known locally as falusi. I was happy when we got back to shore. I liked the idea that I helped someone have a great dinner.

And that’s why, when Robson Green’s Extreme Fishing programme visited the shores of Kenya this week, I was interested. I watched Robson’s deep sea struggle with a much bigger fish than mine. The programme also showed him catching and eating insects…

I’m aware people eat creepy crawlies and have often wondered why. Every once in a while you catch a glimpse of another culture where this is normality. The HSBC advert where a trader sells dried crickets as a snack is one example. The crane flies that unwisely venture into UK houses at the moment remind me of the sausage-flies we had in the Kenyan Highlands. Both have similar aggravating habits, but sausage-flies have longer and fatter bodies. When they throw themselves around recklessly, reeling from lamp to lamp, you hope they don’t bash into you. I was told local people sizzle them in flames – and apparently they taste like bacon. So I should not have been surprised to see Robson on the Kenyan coast wielding a large jar on a piece of string and humming low notes to attract flies into it. Under these circumstances ‘singing for your supper’ takes on new meaning. Although he didn’t catch many flies, he was nevertheless treated to some fly soup for his trouble.

Earlier this week I heard a speaker talking about eating insects. He brought with him assorted dried hopping creatures that he had ordered from Amazon. ‘Like peanuts,’ said many of the audience who were brave enough to crunch through them. He told us that cows are a major source of green house gases, insects aren’t. Apparently, beetles, flies, caterpillars, wasps, bees – just some of the insects that about 2 million people on our planet eat -  convert feed at least four times as efficiently as cows to produce a good source of protein.

All sorts of artists, sculptors, weavers, ceramicists, and more, have been feeding off insects for many years - but not in a literal sense. It seems to be the punchy patterns and crazy colours that attract us. You might find out more at our next membership event when artist, writer and pattern collector Drusilla Cole takes us on a tour of pattern. I really recommend the talk. In the meantime, you could also look at this article about artists inspired by insects.

Or, you could dash out and take your relationship with insects to the next level. Catch a few for your next soup perhaps. It’s great aerobic exercise, which, we all know, nourishes creativity. Perhaps approach this new sport like fishing: if you don’t fancy eating them you can always throw them back !

By BELINDA NAYLOR-STABLES

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