She Loves Bugs

Montse Guillén's experiments with insects and art

Do you find different reactions?

In my experience, men are more inclined to try something the first time. Women are more reserved. Children never ask questions, they just try it.

It seems to prove your point that we come to like what we're exposed to. Tell me, what's the purpose of these "entomophagous performances" at TransEAT?

Montse Guillén at TransEAT: "People don't realize that what they eat is a matter of habit"
Jonathan Postal
Montse Guillén at TransEAT: "People don't realize that what they eat is a matter of habit"

Miralda and I are gathering material for a book of recipes with chef Juan Pablo Valencia [one of the chefs at Mosaico] and Jamaican photo artist Paul Stoppi. The book can be a way of publicizing what we do here and at the Food Museum in Barcelona -- and promoting entomophagy.

Our hominid ancestors probably ate grasshoppers before they ate mammoth's flesh. If entomophagy is an ancient practice, what's the difference between your cuisine and theirs?

I have an electric and a gas oven. [Laughs]

How has Miami received your idea?

I think Miami and Barcelona have welcomed it. I see more people willing to try new food trends. It's only a matter of time before you'll see insect tapas for less than a dollar. Now they are expensive! In Barcelona our idea was such a success. A week after our presentation, you'd see insects in the best markets at the Boquería and in the Ramblas.

My experience eating a water cockroach at TransEAT was unique, kind of metaphysical. I closed my eyes and tried to forget what I was eating in order to enjoy it for what it was.

[Laughs] For some the experience can be off-putting. There's always the understanding that you may not like it. I'd always say, "Try it. It's on the house." If they don't like it they don't have to pay for it. And yet if I tell them about the food's special qualities -- whether it's aphrodisiacal or hallucinogenic -- all of a sudden people get interested.

I'm interested already in the hallucinogenic part!

Tobacco leaves! I've cooked fish, chicken, and duck wrapped in tobacco leaves and the effect is unique. You ought to try it.

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