Taste Test: Summerhill Market’s bug-filled baked goods

Taste Test: Summerhill Market’s bug-filled baked goods

(Image: Christie Vuong)

If the recent cauliflower crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we need to come up with more sustainable methods of producing food—and the bakery at Summerhill Market is doing just that. Head pastry chef Thea Bourne uses crickets and mealworms sourced from Entomo Farms near Peterborough to make grasshopper pie ($21.99) and protein balls ($3.99 each). And if chips become next week’s cauliflower, the market also sells snack-size pouches of dried bugs ($1.69) in flavours like barbecue and honey-mustard. We tried everything. (Sometimes we get to taste test doughnuts, other times, worm balls.)

Our taste-testers

David Topping, executive online editor
David has no previous experience eating bugs.

Rebecca Philps, senior food editor
Rebecca has tried the cricket paratha (flatbread) at Vij’s in Vancouver. She says it tasted like flatbread.

Grasshopper pie
(Image: Christie Vuong) (Image: Christie Vuong)

RP: The graham cracker crust tastes like any other. I actually expected the texture to be crunchier or grittier.
DT: So the crickets are in the flour?
RP: Yes, and those little chocolate nubs are crickets.
DT: It doesn’t taste like anything.
RP: I just ate one of the chocolate crickets.
DT: So did I. It tastes like a chocolate wafer.
RP: Yeah, a soggy wafer.
DT: I was worried they would just dip the crickets in chocolate, and they would still look like crickets. I think making them this uniform shape is the best way to serve me an insect.
RP: This way they just look like Glosette Raisins.
DT: I feel like I’ve had enough of this one to know that it’s fine. If it was the apocalypse, and this was all we could make cake out of, we’d be fine.

Peanut butter mealworm protein balls
(Image: Christie Vuong) (Image: Christie Vuong)

RP: The worms just look like flax seeds.
DT: It smells good. It smells like freshly ground peanut butter. And I love peanut butter.
RP: There’s lots of chocolate in it, which is good.
DT: I like this one.
RP: Yeah, me too. I’d snack on these.
DT: How much they are?
RP: They’re $4 per ball.
DT: That’s too much. I thought the whole point of eating insects is that it’s more sustainable and cost-effective, but I guess it’s not—yet. This is good though, I’ll eat the entire thing.

Salt-and-pepper mealworms
(Image: Christie Vuong) (Image: Christie Vuong)

DT: This is the grossest one by far. I mean, just aesthetically.
RP: You really know what you’re getting in to here.
DT: Right, there’s no mystery about what you’re eating.
RP: It’s like eating Slimey from Sesame Street.
DT: They’re nice. You could use them as a garnish for something.
RP: Yeah, they’re like frizzled onions. Ew. I just got one that had a really pungent flavour. Like sour mushroom. That one grossed me out.
DT: They do taste a tiny bit earthy. I guess they are earthworms, or whatever they are. But I haven’t had any with a dirt taste yet, so maybe I should stop eating them.

Honey-mustard crickets
(Image: Christie Vuong) (Image: Christie Vuong)

DT: Okay, I was wrong about the mealworms. These are much grosser.
RP: I’m actually having trouble with this one. Oh, you can see its eye!
DT: I’m okay, I don’t think I’m that squeamish about this. I just don’t want to eat it because I don’t expect it’s going to be good.
RP: They’ve got a real Old Bay flavour. I’d rather have a Dorito if I want something salty and crunchy.
DT: Yeah, it’s interesting that both of the bugs we’ve eaten now haven’t been as crunchy as we thought they were going to be. I actually think I’d like it if they were crunchier.
RP: Do we have more? Someone’s got to put a whole handful in their mouth.
DT: I’ll do it. As long as it’s going to be documented for posterity. Give me all of them.

(Image: Christie Vuong) (Image: Christie Vuong)

DT: It’s not that much. Right? This is gonna be fine.

(Image: Christie Vuong) (Image: Christie Vuong)

DT: Okay, they are a lot crunchier when you eat them together, that is now a thing we can conclusively say. They’re good. I can actually see that as a snack—as far as snack foods of the future go.

Final thoughts
(Image: Christie Vuong) (Image: Christie Vuong)

DT: If Doritos become extinct, I’d be fine with eating something like that—but we’re not there yet. Ultimately, right now all this stuff is an experiment. It’s just kind of novel—I can’t see somebody turning to this for a snack.
RP: Or picking up their weekly cricket pie. I think overall, though—except for that one mealworm I had—that they’re fine.
DT: Yeah, I wish they were super gross and one of us was throwing up right now.
RP: Or crying.
DT: Or just rocking back and forth. But they’re not buggy at all—they’re also not so amazing, or special or inexpensive. But I will eat the rest of those peanut butter things.