Rene Redzepi on serving ants to his customers

"…It was pure pleasure to watch the couple eat this plate of food, to observe how they discovered the flavour and had a completely new experience. The smile it put on their faces was just amazing. At dinner, though, we didn’t have the same success. One table was downright outraged by the idea of eating of ants. They demanded to speak to the chef, so I wearily went to the table. ‘Why are you making us do this?’ they demanded. ‘Because they’re delicious,’ I said. ‘But they’re alive!’ they objected. ‘Sure,’ I answered, ‘but so was the oyster you just ate. They looked up thoughtfully and there was a long ‘hmmm.’ ‘The meat you’re going to be served later was alive - it was killed for you.’ ‘You can’t compare a simple insect to an animal,’ they argued. ‘We don’t want to be sitting here eating insects’. I explained that the inspiration was from Alex Atala, the chef from Brazil. I told them how many people around the world eat insects on a daily basis. Not because they’re forced to, or because it’s a gimmick, but because it’s part of their culture and they like the taste. I told them that we’re finding a new range of extraordinary flavours. And that’s why we do it - not to shock them. Not so long ago, people thought lobsters were repulsive, and I don’t see how ants are any less valuable to cuisine than langoustines. The couple refused to try them, and I’m worried it might be an omen of hurdles to come. It’s a big step to take, and I wonder if we’re really ready for it. If you don’t serve them, there won’t be any problems, I tell myself. But the fact that there seems to be a nonsensical objection to eating insects, perhaps tinged with a bit of Western self-righteousness, just pisses me off. When it really comes down to it, the incredible flavours have got to me, and there’s no turning back now.”

Rene Redzepi, Journal