Straight & 2 Beers: For health’s sake, milk roaches

By Vusi Nzapheza

Johannesburg – Blame it on my indiscriminate reading but I am currently drinking cockroach milk.

I know it’s universally accepted that cockroaches are nasty creepy crawlers but please hear me out.

People have been eating insects for centuries and they are an excellent source of protein.

In fact, insects have made a serious comeback on some restaurant menus.

I came across a 2016 study published in the Journal of the International Crystallography, which found that beetle cockroaches can make crystallised “milk” that has a solid amount of protein with essential amino acids, fats and sugars.

The researchers also found that one crystal of cockroach milk is estimated to contain more than three times the energy of cow milk. I did not hesitate, and I visited one neighbour who shares his crib with roaches and pounced on an army.

I must confess it takes some doing and I unintentionally killed a couple of them before I finally got it right. The pandemic has made us health conscious and the sales of lemon, ginger and honey have skyrocketed.

The late former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang must be chuckling as she had long campaigned for the health benefits of ginger and garlic to boost the immune system when HIV was ravaging the land. So, don’t ridicule my choice of “dairy product”.

In neighbouring Botswana, donkey milk sits cheek-by-jowl alongside bovine milk. What people eat is their business, except when the people from Wuhan in China apparently ingested bat meat from an informal market and now the whole world is coughing Covid-19.

If you think cockroaches are yucky, you haven’t seen the cave where bats live. I had to duck for my dear life in Maputo, Mozambique, when a tour guide took us to a park infested with green bats.

The French swear that frog legs are a delicacy.

If you are disgusted by the thought of snacking on the ankles of a frog, you must taste shark fin soup, sold as a luxury item in China despite it being tasteless without other ingredients.

The people from Lesotho are known to eat their favourite mode of transport: the horse. In Limpopo, there is an abattoir for baboon meat. I discovered the joys of the highly nutritious masonja in Malamulele only three years ago after years of swearing I wouldn’t eat “disgusting” mopani worms.

It is also known that in some parts of China, you can’t leave your poodle unattended as it could easily end up on a dinner plate. Remember the scandal a few years ago when water buffalo and donkey meat was found in some local abattoirs.

I bet some of you have eaten donkey disguised as your favourite beef rump steak. COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota was at pains to call out fellow MPs who ridiculed horse meat when the scandal was discussed in the house. If eating a dog is not your idea of a proper lunch, then consider that in India they wouldn’t braai a beef steak as cows are considered sacred.

And Muslim countries frown on pork as their scripture considers pigs impure. Thus I discovered the joys of roach milk and I am willing to give tips on how to grab the udder of the insect without throttling it to death.

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