The idea of Crickerita was born in January thanks to me and my colleague Stefano Fratoni, during the course “insects as food and feed”. Few months ago, we started to put in practice the idea, rearing the crickets, making them grow and reproduce (link crickerita part 1). After approximately 3 months I had a good amount of crickets ready to be used as ingredient for food products. I feed them only with organic lettuce and carrots to avoid all possible contaminations. Another important point is that, to create a commercial product, we had to test it with people and see what their suggestions could be to improve the pizza. So, we decided to set up an event for the promotion of the pizza. We called it Aperidroef, which is a mix between aperitivo and droevendal, the student quartier of Wageningen where I live, that has a big central garden in which people normally meet and spend spare time.
First of all, we had to kill the crickets. I will avoid all issues regarding animal welfare, as the European union does not include insects in their animal welfare regulations, and also because, according to my entomology studies, insects don’t have enough nervous terminations to be able to feel pain. There are two common ways to kill insects: freeze them or boil them. We decided to go for the easiest one and we boiled them. They died in no time, less than a second. After boiling them, we had to dry them. We used a microwave oven, that is extremely fast and give an optimal result. After this process, we grind the crickets and we made different mixtures with two varieties of flour.
Once prepared the dough, we were curious seeing how the levitation would have worked. No problem at all, even at high percentages of cricket flour. The dough after two ours, had a very similar texture to the normal one, and was perfectly workable. The cooking phase was easy and fast as a normal pizza. And the result…even better. The taste had not changed at all, and we were quite satisfied. People started to arrive around 19:00, the time of aperitivo. In total, approximately 50 people tried Crickerita. Everyone was enjoying the taste of the pizza and we spent some time to talk about the advantages of using insects as a food source in terms of nutrition and sustainability. Thanks to the help of my flatmates, we were also able to prepare drinks and other food like tortilla, and a pasta salad. We also decided to set a price of 3 euro for the whole Aperidroef experience in order to take back a part of the investment we did.
The aperitivo was a success, and many people were interested about our product and how to produce it. This gave us even more courage to continue in this amazing way of edible insects, and gave us more inspiration to take next step for the commercialization.