My first foray into the wondrous world of insect eating occurred at the tender age of 11, when after sneaking past my best friend's napping Cuban grandmother, he and I braved the sweltering Miami sun and headed to the only refuge for a pair of chubby preteens in suburbia: the mall. It was there, near the Dan Marino's sports bar and next door to the soulless Hot Topic, that my handle on the all things culinary was utterly rocked by the 2000 Christmas cinema gem, Reindeer Games.
Just for the unfortunate chumps who didn't have their entomophagy cherry surreptitiously popped by a Santa Claus-suit clad Ben Affleck, know this: Reindeer Games totally beat out Snowpiercer by a good 13 years as far as cockroach-laden food revelations are concerned. Get ready to have an existential crisis, because both films were brought to you by that master of bug cinema, Harvey Weinstein. And yes, Ben Affleck did indeed play a character named Rudy in a film with the word "reindeer" in it.
So, why do I offer you this long-winded and eerily sweat-stained piece of personal trivia?
Simply because our crunchy buddy, the cockroach, has run into some unforeseen trouble in the jorts capital of the world, Canada. Turns out, a Calgary-based pizzeria hoping to serve up slices—as in pizza slices—garnished with dictyoptera to hordes of eager Canadians is running into unexpected trouble.
The cockroach-topped pizza was to be served at the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo, exhibition, and festival of all things Western that occurs every July in the Alberta, Canada city. The Stampede attracts over one million visitors per year and is known for things like roping calves and chuckwagon racing and cowboy strutting. Pizza faces a lot of competition at the Stampede, both from the many attractions and the many other food offerings, such as the "jalapeño poutine mini donut bowl" and the "maple bacon box" of noodles. So, sure, pizza had to try to take it to the next level.
But, alas, cockroach-laden pizza will not be among the offerings at this year's fair.
"We ordered these things a while back and they did not let us get them through the border," said the pizzeria's owner, Rick Ukmar.
Here's the thing: Dead cockroaches aren't a prohibited or even restricted item, according to the Canada Border Services Agency, as reported in the Calgary Herald.
Stampede spokesman Jennifer Booth initially claimed that the bugs were stopped at the Canadian border. She later told CBC News, though, that "the vendor did mention he was ordering them through Vietnam, therefore they may have been denied at another country's border."
So where are the bugs and who stopped them from entry into Canada? We really couldn't tell you.
But this does bring up another question: Doesn't Calgary have its own cockroaches? One would think so. In any event, the bottom line is this: you can go to the Calgary Stampede and see cattle and swine and horses and sheep. But you'll have to find your cockroaches elsewhere.
In Calgary, you'll have to stick to the pepperoni. But just in case all this bug talk has you craving an insectoid-inspired meal of your own, make sure to check out our Cooking with Bugs series.