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Bugs, flowers and rodents on your plate

By Erik Nilsson in Kunming | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-14 07:39

Bugs, flowers and rodents on your plate

Deep-fried bamboo worms, locusts and flowers are common dishes in Yunnan. Photos by Erik Nilsson/China Daily

Silkworm chrysalises. Pumpkin blossoms. Bamboo rats.

Bon appetit!

Yunnan's provincial capital, Kunming, is a place where honeybee pupae, locusts, caterpillars, dragonflies and bamboo worms are deep-fried.

Alive.

The cooking method adds crispiness to already-crunchy exoskeletons.

(Diners will discover sour ants live up to their namesake.)

Things that wriggle, squirm and flutter are deprived of food for a few days before becoming meals themselves.

That's to purge their digestive tracts before they're piled onto plates and snapped up with chopsticks.

The tradition of enlisting insects for menus started among local ethnic groups over two millennia ago.

For ancient hunter-gatherer communities, creepy-crawlies provided a foodstuff solution that was lying around - or, perhaps more accurately, writhing, scuttling and flying about.

Foraging continues as a legacy, rather than a caloric necessity, and many residents earn livings netting wild bugs bound for tabletops.

They sell their small swarms to markets and restaurants.

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