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This is one meal with real buzz

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The next big dinner at The Brooklyn Kitchen will leave even the borough’s most daring foodies bug-eyed.

On Sept. 18, the Williamsburg school and supplies shop hosts Entomo Cuisine, an $85 four-course insect dinner — complete with a menu featuring meal worms in garlic and corn custard with moth larvae, plus plenty of mezcal to wash it down (literally).

The dinner is the handiwork of Phil Ross, a San Francisco-based entomophagist, which is a fancy word that means “person who eats bugs.” But the meal of creepy-crawlies is more than just a chance for Fear Factor-like escapades — the dinner, in conjunction with a gallery opening at EyeLevel BQE featuring the worm-centric works of Ross’s girlfriend, Monica Martinez — hopes to explore notions of luxury and sustainability in the 21st century.

“It’s all psychologi­cal,” said Martinez, who grew up in Mexico, yet never explored bug consumption until two years ago, at Ross’s suggestion. “Once you try insects, they are amazing. You just want to keep eating them. They really are yummy.”

Martinez’s enthusiasm aside, even confirmed bug eaters aren’t sure the world is ready to fully embrace wormburgers and larvae slaw.

“I don’t think eating bugs is a passing trend,” said Marc Dennis, Brooklyn’s leading entomophagist, who frequently hosts insect-oriented dinner parties at his DUMBO home (including one for The Brooklyn Paper). “This is going to take off at some point, but at the same time, I don’t think it will be soon.”

Dennis’s last insect dinner party attracted 28 people, and he noted that certain events — like Salma Hayek announcing on David Letterman that she frequently eats grasshoppers, ants and worms — seem to have piqued the interest in edible insects for the moment.

“I think there’s no doubt that right now there’s a novelty factor to it,” said Dennis.

So does shelling out $85 to eat mealworms and moth larvae mean edible insects will soon be available at supermarkets across the city?

David Massoni, owner of Park Slope gastropub Thistle Hill Tavern, doesn’t think Brooklynites will be demanding to see fried ants any time soon.

“In this country, the outlook is that bugs are something we squash with our foot, not something we put in our mouth,” he said. “I think it’s just a ‘wow’ factor. People are becoming more and more interested, but this isn’t the kind of thing we’re going to see at Union Market.”

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t embrace the critters, which are not only a great source of protein and a low-fat food, but they’re also crunchy. And Dennis is quick to add that bugs are much more environmentally friendly compared to other sources of animal protein, which is exactly why The Brooklyn Kitchen was interested in hosting the dinner.

“We thought it was something that would be really different and interesting while keeping with our sustainability mission,” said co-owner Taylor Erkkinen, noting that she may or may not partake in the insect indulgence.

“I think the mezcal will definitely help with the bug eating,” she added.

Tickets are $85 and available for purchase at thebrooklynkitchen.com. Seating is limited.

Updated 1:21 am, September 8, 2010
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