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Grub's up;The big picture

(Photograph) - nsects might not be to everyone's taste, but at the Fonda Don Chon restaurant in Mexico City, crispy creepy-crawlies are the order of the day. Baby alligators, river crawfish and all manner of bugs are on the menu. And if you've always wanted to say "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup", here's your chance.

In countries where animal protein is hard to come by, insects can be a useful supplement to the daily diet. Your average grasshopper is 50 per cent protein - three times as much as steak - and in parts of Latin America, Asia and Africa, people love their grubs.

Aborigines used to survive in the outback by eating honeypot ants, whose bodies were used as storage vessels for the sweet liquid. These ants are highly prized by entomophagists - insect-eaters - who have been trying to promote our six-legged friends as a gourmet treat.

Americans buy more than a million tequila-flavoured mealworm lollipops every year, and in Japan, jars of black wasps line delicatessen's shelves.

Entomophagy has spawned books, including 'Entertaining With Insects' and 'Man Eating Bugs', and even has its own specialist press: 'The Food Insects Newsletter' gives tips on insect breeding and preparation.

Robert Pickard of the British Nutrition Foundation says we shouldn't be squeamish about eating locusts and grasshoppers, for example, which come from the same family as crabs and prawns. Even the humble maggot could make a tasty snack, he suggests. "But it's always best to cook them - you don't know where they've been. If you fry them, they would be perfectly OK on toast." Larva-ly!

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