Australian restaurants have hit on a radical solution to an unusually large seasonal invasion of moths—they’ve taken a tip from Aborigines and put the pests on the menu. Millions of bogong moths have descended on Canberra and Sydney over the past fortnight, gathering in swarms on windowsills, clogging air-conditioning ducts and swooping on unsuspecting pedestrians. Strong winds have blown the moths off course as they make their annual migration from the heat of Queensland state to the cool caves of the Snowy Mountains in the south.
Canberra restaurateur Kurt Gruber said he would include the moths on his menu next week. “They can be made into a soup or served in some brandy,” he said. “You flame them so the wings and the fur burn off and they go crunchy.” Bogong moths, high in fat and protein, have been a source of nutrition for Aborigines for thousands of years. A study earlier this year found the brown insects’ abdomens—the prime cut for moth connoisseurs—had three times the fat and almost twice the energy content as a similar portion of a McDonald’s Big Mac.
Jean-Paul Bruneteau, a French-born chef who has pioneered the fusion cooking of Australian “bush tucker” and fine dining, was full of praise for the bite-sized bogongs. “They are lovely,” he told the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ this week. “They have a nutty, crisp, popcorn flavour, like buttered hazelnut.”