Tonight, I went over to a friend's house for dinner. In knowing that I've been gearing up for the first meeting of High Desert Test Kitchen (an experimental culinary club that I've started in Joshua Tree and focuses on native Mojave edibles) my friend has been catching insects in his backyard for me to cook with. Namely scorpions. Tonight, we tried them. He thought frying them would be good since they're mostly composed of crunchy exoskeleton.
They were vile. Although masked by a generous amount of savory, tempura-like beer batter, the shells proved to be an indigestible texture. The fingernail-sized plates of the bodies would not disappear on the palate, and instead lingered between teeth with the stenchy aroma of tannic acid and foul intestines. They were horrible. But I like to experiment, so I'm okay with trying anything once.
I got home around midnight and noticed a message from a friend on instagram. She had responded to my posting that implied we were cooking these desert creatures, asking about eating native plants instead. As I answered her empathetic query, I spewed on about the entire ethical terrain of eating from the wild—how many habitats and potential food sources have been destroyed or disrupted by my harvesting presence?
As I turned around to make tea and go to bed, I noticed a little crumpled figure under the corner of the stove. It didn't look like it belonged there. Upon closer inspection, I recognized the figure: a pale, translucent sandy spider with a prominent arced tail. It was a scorpion. I had to look twice. Indeed, it was a scorpion. My first live one. He scuttled around the perimeter of the kitchen, finally exiting through the door after initiating a brief, but profound encounter of disbelief. I'm glad he stopped in.