They’re here! After months of anticipation, the buzzing hoards have finally descended, devouring all before them. Having swarmed across the nation, resistance is largely futile so allow me to be the first to say: welcome Oprah Winfrey and her imported audience of excitable Chicagoans. Enjoy your stay. I only hope that a visit to Kryall Castle is on the agenda. Oprah’s television audience, however, aren’t our only visitors. We also have locusts.
Talk about a build-up. For the past six months, we’ve heard that the locusts are coming. Now they’re finally here and are intent on taking over. I first noticed them whilst out running. In the early morning darkness, I could feel the little blighters as they ricochet off my head. Until then, I hadn’t realized that I run with my mouth open. However, after several courses of locust served rare, it occurred to me that my mouth needed some kind of protective grill, much like a storm water drain or a Ford Fairmont.
I realize that, broadly speaking, locusts are terrible and consume everything before them without discrimination, but the same can be said of members of the Barmy Army and yet we welcome them with open arms. Perhaps they’ve only themselves to blame. Ever since locusts allowed themselves to be used as pawns in the whole ‘Egyptians versus the Israelites’ debacle, their arrival has been greeted with all the fanfare of an impending apocalypse. That they should turn up along with the type of rain that would send Noah scurrying to the nearest Bunnings for all the nails and timber off-cuts he could lay his hands on hasn’t helped any.
I think we’re looking at this all wrong. Whilst, if history is any guide, the sea will shortly turn red and oceans will boil over, there’s still time to take a ‘glass half full’ approach. In short, we should see them less as the eighth plague of Egypt and more as a once-in a lifetime marketing opportunity. There’s an old saying; when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. As I picked out the mortal remains of a dozen locusts from between my teeth after my morning jog, I contemplated but then dismissed the idea of turning millions of tiny insects into a liquid, fizzing beverage treat and settled for a simple sauté. For whilst some see marauding hoards of twittering insects as a problem, I see a source of protein that simply can’t be beat.
The time has come for us to eat our way out. Think about it. The entire history of human existence is a sorrowful tale in which we’ve managed to drag once plentiful species to the verge of extinction because we can’t say no to a plate of seconds. Oceans have been raked bare, fragile ecosystems bulldozed to make room for more cattle. As good as we are at wiping things out, I fear we may have been consuming the wrong species. It now occurs to me that we’ve been looking at this all wrong. Say what you will about cows, they’re hardly aggressive. Sure, they’re slow and not too bright, and suffer a chronic flatulence problem that may well be heating up the atmosphere with all the speed of a Ford Laser parked in the sun, but they’re not out to destroy us. We shouldn’t be putting our allies onto our dinner plates – we should be eating our enemies instead.
I realise that many will recoil at the idea of chowing down on a plate of locusts, but I feel this is nothing more than a simple image problem. For example, if locusts were given a different, more accurate but less Biblical name such as ‘short-horned grasshoppers’, people may not be so quick to rush to judgement. Throw in an episode of MasterChef devoted to the best ways to cook short-horned grasshoppers and you’d have people queuing up to buy them in bulk. (If this world suffers anything in plague proportions, it’s cooking shows. And if there’s anything that this multitude of chefs have taught us it’s that there’s nothing in this world that can’t be eaten without a pinch of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil.)
The tourists would surely flock to see locusts invading Melbourne. If we can train a million or so to perform tricks, we’ll be set. I figure if they can get the dolphins at Sea World to do as they’re told, there’s no good reason to think we can’t do something similar with an army of insects if only we provide them with the right kind of motivation. From this point on, the tram and Arts Centre spire will mean nothing – our tea towels and commemorative teaspoons shall all feature the locust. Forget the Pink Heath as our state flower. We should replace it with a simple stalk and a locust sitting on top.
So let them come here in their millions. As the bright lights of the Melbourne metropolis act as a siren call to the advancing locust army, we should sit back and let them come ever closer before luring them into our kitchens. Toasted, roasted or barbecued – the options are really only limited by your imagination. Perfect as a light snack between meals or as the crowning glory at your next dinner party. Delish! So fire the stoves and stoke the barbecues, it’s time for dinner. As for me, well, I feel I may have already eaten my share. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be sure to suck down a few more next time I elect to go for a run. But the simple truth is that, at this moment, I just don’t have the appetite.