From haute to cricket cuisine
Monday, June 23, 2008 | 10:46 PM ET
by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca
Growing up in Vancouver, I was lucky enough to remember Vij's when it was a tiny place on West Broadway. Today, it's one of the world's leading Indian restaurants, attracting fawning food critics and celebrities alike.
Owners Vikram Vij (front-of-house and husband) and Meeru Dhalwala (head chef and wife) are best-selling cookbook authors, bringing their signature modern Indian dishes to kitchens around the world.
Vij's has added cricket to its world-renowned menu. (CBC)
This week, the duo is pushing boundaries once more, as they add insects to their menu, right next to the infamous lamb popsicles.
Dhalwala wrote about their high-end experiment in this article, explaining the potential health and environmental benefits of occasionally replacing meat with insects as a viable protein.
"Insect farming is much more efficient than livestock farming, which is one of the main polluting industries in the world. And let's not forget my favourite complaint about all the hormones and antibiotics in our meats. In comparison, insects are very clean," wrote Dhalwala.
Vij's spicy cricket paratha (CBC)
She pointed out cooked grasshopper contains about 60 per cent protein and 6 per cent fat, while the same serving of hamburger contains 18 per cent protein and 18 per cent fat.
Dhalwala acknowledges there's a yuck factor, so she's starting off customers slow, roasting crickets and grinding them into a flour to make spicy paratha, an Indian flatbread. (Two thousand crickets make enough paratha for a dozen people.)
"It's really not as gross as we think it is," she told CBC News when we did a TV story on the new dish.
If that catches on, she may move on to roasting grasshoppers with lemon and cayenne. And who knows, restaurants looking for Vij's success may just follow in its footsteps.
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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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