SHORELINE — Many people see insects as pests.
David George Gordon sees dinner.
He combines gastronomy with entomology.
What’s up with that?
Gordon has made a name for himself as The Bug Chef. He turns creepy crawlers and spindly spiders into kebabs and cookies.
“Eighty percent of the world’s cultures eat some kind of insect,” he said. “We’re like the oddballs that don’t.”
Gummy worms don’t count.
There’s nothing weird about it, he insists. His twirled-up mustache and blue-rimmed glasses give him a grandfatherly mad-scientist look. He sprinkles on the black ants and the charm.
Actress Anna Faris unflinchingly ate a fried tarantula leg he cooked up on a late night TV talk show in 2015. He’s that charming.
Gordon, 69, of Shoreline, started out as just another guy with a degree in aquatic science. He was an aquarist at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and a technical writer for Washington Sea Grant. The Chicago transplant has authored 20 books, mostly scientific guides on sharks, slugs, geoducks and the like.
In 1998, on somewhat of a whim, he wrote “Eat-a-Bug Cookbook,” which was revised in 2013. Recipes include Three Bee Salad, Curried Termite Stew and Cockroach à la King. Yup, you read that right.
“It’s funny that it’s the one that really lasted. It’s my one book that has legs,” Gordon said.
Another book is on Bigfoot. Chasing, not eating, Bigfoot. He spoke on the 2017-18 Humanities Washington circuit about Sasquatch: Man-Ape or Myth?
Mostly, though, he lectures on bugs or dons a chef’s jacket for arthropod cooking demos.
For $45 a plate, you can partake in scorpion pizza and insect-infused drinks on Feb. 16 in Shoreline at Darrell’s Tavern, with grasshoppers as finger foods and other surprises. There are only a few seats left. Not to worry, he’s doing the bug dinner again in June.
He is among the speakers at TedxEverett 2020 on Feb. 22 at Angel of the Winds Arena. He’ll be talking about sea serpents, and no, there won’t be samples.
Gordon has appeared on “Late Night with Conan Conan,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and “The View.” He did a show-and-tell at the Smithsonian and at three Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums.
Last month, he was flown to Juneau, Alaska, for Science on Screen, which pairs movies with science. He handed out crunchy critters for kids to enjoy with the screening of “The Muppet Movie.”
“At the beginning of the movie, Kermit was complaining that as he’d gotten older his tongue doesn’t work as well for catching flies,” he said.
As for Gordon, his stash is from suppliers, not self-caught.
Gordon’s not the only bug guru around. The edible insect movement of low-fat, high-protein fare has gained popularity, beyond a freak show at fairs as an alternative to corn dogs and fried Twinkies.
“Fred Meyer sells cricket chips called Chirps,” he said.
Sure enough, the barbecue tortilla-style cricket chips go for $3.99 a bag. Amazon has insect energy bars and bags of mixed bugs.
It’s only a matter of time before edible insects are available as pot shop edibles.
Seattle Mariners fans go gaga over grasshoppers, a Mexican snack known as chapulines toasted with chili-lime. Chris Pratt put it in the limelight on “SportsNation” when he ate the crispy torsos, saying, “That’s good. … You have to understand I am hungry as hell.”
Maybe Pratt was just trying to keep up with his ex-wife Faris, who ate bugs on Corden’s talk show with singer Tituss Burgess, who devoured the canapes with cockroaches.
The YouTube video got about 3.8 million views.
“I wouldn’t serve it if it wasn’t good. That’s my motto,” Gordon said on the show.
His favorites are waxworms.
“You can actually buy those at Petco if you were desperate,” he said. “They’re not worms, they’re little caterpillars. They eat the beeswax of honeycomb in the wild.”
These are great in cookies.
“When baked they taste like pistachios,” he said.
Perfect for the munchies.
His wife of 11 years, Karen Luke Fildes, an oil painter and illustrator, is his partner on worldly ventures, not just limited to eating bugs. In April, they are heading to Switzerland, where five private schools hired them to work with kids on a field guide.
The couple met on Match.com.
“I was on a three-day free trial,” Fildes said. “I saw his picture online. He looked like Einstein.”
Only he was holding an octopus tentacle.
She had no idea about the bodies in his freezer.
“I didn’t find that out until after the second date,” she said.
“I didn’t want the whole conversation to revolve around edible insects,” he said.
It often does. Imagine sitting next to him on a plane after the “So what do you do?” introduction.
“He got me on stage to eat a scorpion when we were dating,” Fildes said.
She has devoured a few more since. She prefers the powdered black ants, also marketed as an aphrodisiac.
“They’re used like the blue pill. So if you want to get sexy, this is what you want,” she said. “Shake it on, put it on your salad. Baby, shake it up.”
Learn more about David George Gordon at davidgeorgegordon.com