By Alex Matthews
It might sound like the start of a bad joke – but a Michelin starred restaurant has begun serving ANTS to unexpecting diners.
Apparently they provide a ‘lemon sherbert’ hit and the chefs use them as a ‘palate cleanser’.
The garden beasties are added to dishes at Carters of Moseley, in Birmingham, as a ‘surprise’ on the restaurant’s tasting menu – which sets diners back up to £85 a head.
According to head chef Brad Carter, the ants give the dishes a distinctive citrus flavour, owing to the formic acid they contain.
He has chosen the ants as they are the best available ingredient for the flavour at this time of year.
They are also an attempt to stay ahead of the curve in a world where meat will become ever more rare and people will turn to insects for protein.
The beasties are rolled onto asparagus spears and even used to create lemon desserts.
Brad said: “The reason we are using ants in the restaurant is we are trying to find direct replacements for ingredients overseas.
“The ants are lemon – so they give us the same finished product as a lemon would but using a wild ingredient.
“Looking further forward into the future we will eventually run out of meat. So we are embracing the fact that by eating insects we are one step ahead.
“By adding them to the menu, we can show people how good they are.
“The flavour of the ants is a big hit of lemon sherbert, with a little bit of astringency so it dries your mougth out slightly but gives you this big impact of lemon.
“Wood ants are the ingredient we have been focussing on as a direct replacement for lemon in the UK, as we don’t grow those in this country.
“The two dishes we have are a ‘not lemon’ posset and asparagus with wood ants and kombucha vinegar. It’s a great palate cleanser at the end of our snacks menu.
“It keeps us sticking to our British larder.”
The menu is available at Carters of Moseley in Birmingham on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Depending on the courses served, prices vary between £65-£85.