University of Maryland; ‘Cicada-licous’ Cooking

‘Cicada Jeff’ answers your pertinent cicada questions

Advice for the cicada-curious

Jeffrey Denny

Dear Cicada Jeff:

The cicadas are emerging from their underground holes after 17 years. My 17-year-old son just emerged from his underground hole (basement bedroom) after one year. He’s now six foot tall and has a lumberjack beard and gravelly voice. His mother is frightened there’s a stranger in the house, and in a sense, she’s right. Will he molt like a cicada?

Bugged Dad

Dear Bugged:

By “molt,” do you mean change out of the filthy Black Sabbath tee-shirt and jeans he’s worn for a year that Hazmat responders should contain? Probably not.

Remember the old joke about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb? Punchline: The light bulb has to want to change.

Best to write your son’s college applications for a campus on the opposite coast. Or overseas, although I’m guessing Oxford, while certainly desperate for him, is out of the running.

You also might like to see a professional therapist.

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Dear Cicada Jeff:

I’m vegan. But I’m getting sick of seitan, tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, spelt, teff, hempseed, green peas, fake hot dogs, and other wonderfully delicious non-animal, non-cruelty, planet- and climate-friendly sources of protein.

Also, my serious protein deficiency has caused skin degeneration, infections, stunted growth, muscle wasting and bone fractures. I’m literally dying for a Hebrew National 100% kosher beef hot dog. Or even a Nathan’s Famous at the Vince Lombardi Service Plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike, mostly famous for DWD (dysentery while driving).

I hear cicadas are a healthy, plentiful and natural source of protein. Plus, they’re free-range and also locavore since they’re in my kitchen because I left the door open for a minute.

But I also understand from the internet that insects are members of the animal kingdom. Are cicadas considered meat? Can I eat them and still shame meat-eaters and other Earth-haters?

— Subaru Driver With Virtue-Signaling Bumper Stickers

Dear Irritating:

Yes! I strongly urge you to eat bugs.

I say, eat a LOT of bugs. Every day. Post videos of you eating bugs.

If guilting people makes you happy, I’d also suggest sucking fire ants out of their anthills with your mouth. Or bat down a hornet’s nest and stick your hand in there to dig out their sweet and natural honey. Or next time your place is infested with stink bugs, gather and munch on a bowl before your next date or job interview.

You should also see a professional therapist.

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Dear Cicada Jeff:

Can I kill cicadas? They’re everywhere. Their constant buzzing is driving me insane, like many humans do. The Republicans and the NRA say I should stockpile weapons for when people bug me. It’s my Constitutional right. But what about cicadas? The Bible says thou shalt not kill.

P.S.: I know where you live.

— Quiet Neighbor Who Always Kept to Himself

Dear Capitol Insurrectionist:

It’s not your fault you’re a psychopath or sociopath, or both. It’s how God made you. Let me help with your dilemma:

Ok to kill:

Mosquitos. Flies at backyard cookouts that lick dog poop, then your potato salad, then your babies. Also, flies on the wall at corporate meetings where the CEO says, “Screw the customers we poisoned — I demand my $500 million bonus!” Corporate security will take care of those flies.

You also can murder: murder hornets before they murder you; gargantuan bathtub spiders that are actually tiny; fish as an important source of omega-3 fatty acids; rats, dingos and alligators that, respectively, eat babies outside Michelin-starred NYC restaurants, in Australia, and at Disney; cockroaches; and, “water bugs,” which are cockroaches with brand consultants and social media influencers. And of course, cicadas, if the eerie alien buzzing is telling you to insurrect the Capitol again.

Not ok to kill:

First of all, me, neighbor!

Also, any humans, even if the Constitution says it’s the price of gun freedom and Southern states love capital punishment. Endangered species starting with lions, tigers and bears, oh my, no. Also no: Cattle you stop to moo at and they moo back as if in recognition, and then you launch a hit podcast together, Moo Talk.

(Sorry libs: It’s wrong to fantasize about the Trump sons slowly roasting on a spit, even if it would be delicious karma. Metaphorical roasting is fine.)

No offense, but respectfully might I suggest a professional therapist?

***

Dear Cicada Jeff:

Since we can’t get to Whole Foods for costly foods because insensitive employers are forcing us back into the office, making healthy work-life balance impossible again, how should I prepare cicadas for my family to overcome the natural gag reflex from eating bugs? — Kids These Days Are Such Picky Eaters

Dear Amazing Parent:

The trick is to take the denial out of delicious.

A popular cookbook, “Cicada-licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas,” features family delights such as cicada dumplings appetizers, “El Chirper Tacos,” and cicada cookies called “Chocolate-Chip Trillers.”

A bug professor says cicadas “have a buttery texture, a delicious, nutty flavor, probably from the tannins, from the roots of the trees on which they fed.”

Cicadas pair well with Merlot, he said. That’s a perfect teaching moment if your kids want to become sommeliers and shame tech billionaires at Michelin-starred restaurants who wouldn’t know a ’47 Cheval Blanc from a ’21 Cicada Sauvignon.

But it wouldn’t hurt to take the family to a professional therapist.

***

Dear Cicada Jeff:

My dog is obsessed with eating cicadas. He fills up with bugs, then he vomits bugs all over the house. What should I do? — Beta To My Alpha Dog

Dear Poor Dear:

Why are you writing to an advice columnist hoping your question will be picked out of thousands for a response in time to deal with your problem?

You need to see a professional therapist.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

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Jeffrey Denny

Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.