Yunnan It’s called different things in different languages: “winter worm, summer grass” in Tibetan; “caterpillar fungus” in English. So what exactly is Ophiocordyceps sinensis? A mushroom found on the Tibetan Plateau that parasitizes ghost moth larvae. It mummifies the caterpillar, after which an orangey-red growth emerges from its body. In China, this is traditionally dried and used in broths. It is reputed to be an aphrodisiac and a stimulant for the immune system, among other beneficial properties. Consume in small quantities: 1 kg of this caterpillar fungus goes for around €20,000!
Ahe Those who venture into the waves breaking on the atoll may be rewarded by a strange encounter, promising an epicurean feast: Colobocentrotus atratus, commonly known as the helmet urchin. This is a sea urchin, without spines, but with five jaws. Chef Janine at the Cocoperle Lodge delights in the ocean’s resources: “Here, the fridge is right out in front, not at the back,” and is stocked with ma’oa (sea snail), the toraka (a conical turban shell) and the pahua clam. She adds helmet and slate-pencil urchin meat to creamy sauces for a divinely sea-salty taste.
São Paulo We can look forward to seeing these big-headed, spindly-legged little creatures becoming a regular feature on our plates. The fact is, insects are going to be part of our future diet; and when you think about it, it takes just as much pluck to taste a snail or an oyster as a sautéed grasshopper. At the gourmet restaurant D.O.M. headed by award-winning Alex Atala, Amazonian ants are served up on a spicy Japanese-style granita, and this disconcerting combination is really not bad at all. It’s time to broaden our culinary horizons.
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