Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/551

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LOCUSTS AS FOOD FOR MAN.

sculptures deposited in the British Museum represents men carrying different kinds of meat to some festival, and among them some carrying long sticks, to which locusts are tied, thus showing that they were of sufficient importance to form part of a public feast.

Locusts have been, and are yet, extensively employed as an article of food in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Romans are said to have roasted them to a bright golden yellow before eating them; and in Russia they are salted or smoked like herrings. Pliny says that locusts were highly esteemed by the Parthians; Herodotus speaks of a tribe of Ethiopians that fed on locusts; and the records of their use in ancient times as food, in both Southern Europe and Asia, are abundant. At the present day this use still continues.

Riley, in his narrative,[1] says: "Locusts are esteemed very good food by the Moors, Arabs, and Jews, in Barbary, who catch large numbers of them in their season, and throw them, while jumping alive, into a pan of boiling argan oil; here they hiss and fry until their wings are burned off, and their bodies are sufficiently cooked, when they are poured out and eaten. I have seen many thousands cooked in this manner, and have had the curiosity to taste them; they resemble, in consistence and flavor, the yolks of hard-boiled eggs."

The Riff Arabs, when they see a swarm of locusts hovering in the air and clouding the sky, watch them with anxiety, and when they descend near their habitations they receive them with shouts of gratitude to God and Mohammed, throw themselves on the ground, and collect them as fast as possible. The locusts, deprived of their heads, legs, and wings, are well boiled in butter, and served up with a substance called alcuzcuz. The Riff Arabs consider them delicious food. Their camels also eat them greedily. The Moors use them to this day, by first boiling and then frying them. The Moorish Jews, more provident than their Mussulman neighbors, salt them and keep them for making a dish called dafina which forms the Saturday's dinner of the Jewish inhabitants. This dish is made by putting meat, fish, eggs, tomatoes, locusts, "in fact, almost anything edible, into a jar, placing the latter in an oven on Friday night, and then taking it out hot on the Sabbath." In this manner the orthodox Hebrew gets a hot dinner without committing the sin of lighting a fire upon that day.

The Indians of California and the Great Basin also collect locusts for food. The Digger Indians roast them and grind or pound them into a sort of flour, which they mix with pounded acorns, the nuts of the piñon-pine, or with berries. This mixture they make into cakes and dry in the sun for future use.

Among the other uses to which locusts are applied is fish-bait for the sardine-fisheries off the coast of Spain; and similar bait might be

  1. Published in 1859.