Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

cockchafer also called may-bug, Melolontha melolontha, one of a group of insects known as chafers because of the way they attack plants. They are vegetarians and have been recommended as wholesome and delicious fare for human beings. Holt (1885) portrayed a world in which ‘insects eat up every blessed green thing that do grow and us starve. Well, eat them and grow fat!’ He particularly recommended ‘a good dish of fried cockchafers’. Bodenheimer (1951) was able to marshal similar testimonials from French authorities, including the writer Catulle Mendés, who ‘tore off the head and wings, and crunched the remainder, the taste of which he compared to a dish of chopped chicken in butter taken with salt.’