Trick or Treat? The Creepiest Food Trends

Halloween! Creepiest food trends

Trick or Treat?
The Creepiest Food Trends

There was a time when Halloween was all about putting on your bat costume and trying out smoked cocktails from The Alchemist. Or preparing your own “potion” (drinkable, of course) from The Cauldron, a Harry Potter bar in London. Not quite the creepy Halloween vibes right? Don’t worry, we have explored some of the latest and creepiest food trends out there. Forget scary charcoal burger buns and get your teeth to bite into crispy bugs, grubs, brain patties and more. Insects and offals are indeed increasingly crawling onto UK menus so don’t be a basic witch (sorry, there will be more of these!) and explore the creepiest food trends on the market. Promise, it tastes good. And it will be sensational for Halloween this year. Will you dare to try? Let us know in the comments…

Creep it real with bugs and grubs 🦗

Imagine a lovely six-legged and venomously delicious menu made of crispy bugs and melt-in-the-mouth grubs. While insects don’t come across as the food you’d look forward to snack on, it has many benefits. What’s more, some say it could even end world hunger. So let’s find out how insects can add some extra punch to your menus!

crickets and grasshoppers are one of the latest creepies food trends

What do insects and grubs taste like?

If we were to tell you crickets taste like nuts and red ants like lemons… would you dare trying them? While the idea of insect-eating might be frightfully weird, you’d be surprised by its vast use now on many UK menus. The Grub Kitchen was the first restaurant dedicated to serving edible insect food. Fancy a grubs bolognese or a bug burger made with insect mince? Getting sweaty? No worries, they have sweet treats too. We’ve heard their famous cricket cookies are super tasty! How it is cooked and prepared? You can grind crickets and turn them into protein-packed flour for baking, for example.

Now let us show you why insects are one of the creepiest food trends, but yet a curious one for your tastebuds – here’s what’s been said:

  • Crickets are associated with a nutty flavour 🌰
  • Red ants are used as a creamy alternative with notes of sour lemon 🍋
  • Beetles are the new popcorn alternative for movie nights 🍿
  • Scorpions are close to crab and fishy flavours – ideal to replace seafood 🦀
  • And don’t forget the giant water bug tasting like bananas and melons 🍌
  • Sago grubs: fatty and melting in the mouth like your morning bacon 🥓
  • Cockroach to replace your traditional Sunday greasy chicken 🍗
  • Fancy something bloody contextual? Black soldier fly larvae for blood pudding flavours! 🩸

Let’s be honest, that’s enough flavours and textures to build a very elaborate meal! Raw, sautéed, steamed, fried, refried, skewered, keep exploring! Need inspiration? Santo Remedio in London has a lovely guacamole flavoured by nutty notes of roasted grasshoppers.

Love at first bite, honestly. 😉

Are insects really one of the creepiest food trends?

These little insects are actually being explored by several eco-friendly chefs as an alternative. Indeed, it’s a more local and sustainable alternative to meat. Firstly, crickets are made of up to almost 70% protein. So a single portion of crickets would fulfill between 25-60% of your daily requirement of protein. Protein yes, but also many essential minerals and vitamins such as iron, potassium and B12. Curious? It has twice more iron than spinach and 5 times more magnesium than beef.

Secondly, they’re very accessible. Actually, about 2 billion people across the world are already eating insects on a daily basis, especially in Asia, Africa and Central America! Ready to join the entomophagists? Yes it has a name! Vampires, werewolves, vegans… and entomophagists!

Thirdly, it’s also great for the planet as insect farming requires much less resources and can be grown on a very large scale without damaging the environment. 1kg of crickets require 1L of water to be farmed vs. 2,300 litres for 1kg of chicken… Frightfully true! 😈

Trying to become a more sustainable foodservice business? We’ve got a few more tips for you!

Still not convinced? Well you eat more than a pound of insects every year already anyway 😉. These are hidden in foods we consume daily without realising it! So think twice next time you lavishly devour your chocolate, dates, potatoes, broccoli and canned fruit juices…

Go nose to tail! Gruesomely good for you 🧠

Boo! Haggis-eaters, keep reading. Non haggis-eaters, keep reading too! Brains, eyeballs, livers… if you thought these were only in movies, you’d be surprised to see them right under your nose and in your plate. So if haggis (sheep’s heart, liver and lungs!) was already a no, try other recipes that might appear more appetising to you. Ever fancied a cerebral burger?

Cerebral burgers and liver sausages

cerebral brain burger from MeatLiquor
MEATLiquor Brain Burger // London The Inside

Can you imagine that crispy and meaty patty with a lovely creamy mayo falling out of each burger side and on your fingers? Excellent! This is nutritious brain juice on your hands. You dirty foodie! MEATliquor in London – “come hungry, leave wobbly” has a specific point there. Their chefs cook brain for its texture, creating both moist, soft and crispy textures. You can poach, grill, roast or batter brains to send your tastebuds to new – frightening – heights. It can get quite liquid-y though, so be ready to get out of your comfort zone. 

If brains aren’t your thing, let your heart pump to new flavours with Ceviche’s heart recipe ‘Anticucho de Corazon’ – i.e. marinated beef heart. Fancy a full body discovery? Head to Barrafina in London to be served by the H(e)art brothers. A niche and unique bloody tapas night to awaken your darker senses with calf’s liver and roasted veggie skewers, calf tongue, kidney and brains. Thrills or chills?

Organ meats: one of the creepiest food trend that is so good for you

Now, what about organ meats? These are often associated with cruel night creatures such as vampires and werewolves eating fresh flesh and organs. The reality is, these are packed with nutrients that many health practitioners would recommend. Our Western societies have made our diets very restricted to some parts of meat. The meat we consume has its fat removed and precious, nutrient-rich organs are being wasted. It is one of the most nutrient-dense food available on the planet, meaning you’re getting so many vitamins and minerals all at once and naturally, rather than via supplements. Vitamins A, B, D, E, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, selenium – here’s you, supercharged. So ditch muscle meat, go deeper and reach the organs. As we say here, go nose-to-tail! What a fangtastic idea! 🧠🫀

Bloody hell of a dish! 🩸

What about blood then? You might have already tried blood-based recipes such as black pudding. But some chefs are real adventurers and replace eggs with blood, for example. Unfortunately, blood doesn’t quite taste like your edible fake blood made of raspberry jam in your Halloween pastries. That’s why chefs have to use various techniques and ingredients to use blood the right way in their recipes.

Whip the clots

Blood has always been controversial and still is. It is less of a taboo in some Asian cultures where blood soups are common but isn’t quite mainstream in our Western cultures. I mean, a few of us already faint with the thought of a blood test. However, some European chefs have started breaking boundaries and taboos of blood-based cooking to craft recipes made with blood. For example, blood tarts with figs and blood custard with pickled pears, or even blood-chocolate pudding with cherries. Don’t forget to whip the blood enough to remove all the clots! Gross. We know. Though you do the same with eggs for your cakes!

What does blood taste like?

By combining blood with chocolate and spices it removes any metallic taste. Some chefs like to use blood to replace eggs as it’s high in protein and has the same coagulating and emulsifying properties when baking and cooking. Actually, this is a good alternative for people allergic to eggs! Keep in mind egg allergy is the second biggest food intolerance in children in Europe at the moment! It’s also a good way to help support iron deficiency to tackle anaemia problems. Blood meringue… anyone? It’s got a nice colour though! Spooktacular! 🩸

What about food safety with bugs, blood and offals?

Insects and food safety 🦗

scorpios to eat

Insects are much more common in Asian and South American kitchens. The mealworm was the first insect to have officially been declared safe to eat by the European Foods Safety Agency early 2021. But what about everything else? Like any other food, manipulating edible insects should follow strict hygiene routines during harvesting, handling and cooking. But very few laws currently exist in Western cultures for insects and prevention of microbiological and chemical risks. In addition, there isn’t any labelling rules either on insect-based foods. But here’s a few food safety concerns that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has raised about insects:

  • Allergenic risks: anyone allergic to seafood should probably avoid insects to be safe. Indeed, insects and crustaceans both belong to the same arthropod family known for severe allergic reaction and so allergen cross-reactivity could be possible.
  • Biological risks: bacteria such as E.coli and Campylobacter and other fungi and parasites can be present in insects.
  • Chemical risks: because insects are eaten as a whole rather than in “bits”, it makes them vulnerable to chemical contamination with pesticides and toxic metals.
  • Physical risks: choking hazard due to little parts, such as wings, spines and stingers. Grrrrr.

As no regulations actually exist regarding insects, what can you do? Just follow classic food hygiene routines. First, always wash raw insects and anything else you’ve touched after manipulating raw insects (utensils, surfaces, handles, cloths). Second, separate raw insects from other food to avoid cross contamination. Make sure you use different knives, utensils and chopping boards. Third, cook your insects thoroughly – whether sautéed or fried, ensure they’re cooked through. Finally, don’t leave your insects out on the kitchen counter – any leftovers should be quickly refrigerated to avoid bacteria growth.

Cooking organ meats: how to stay safe? 🧠

cooking with organ meats: raw liver ready to be cooked as one of the creepiest food trends

Follow the same rules as muscle meat when it comes to organ meats. Before and after manipulating raw offals, wash your hands and disinfect any utensils, surface, recipients and sinks that could have been contaminated. As usual, make sure to separate raw offals from ready-to-eat foods. In addition, opt for the lower shelf in the fridge to store organ meats to prevent leaks to contaminate other foods. In terms of cooking, ensure it’s cooked through to avoid bad bacteria and food poisoning with undercooked offals – typically campylobacter.

Also ensure you are using organ meat that is okay to eat. Human and squirrel brains aren’t recommended as they’ve been associated with neuro-degenerative diseases and potential mad cow illnesses. Organ meat is also extremely perishable so you’ll have to cook it quick. Buy your organ meat fresh and use within 24 hours to stay on the safe side. One step closer to the perfect “Brain-naise” to replace mayo.

As a little special treat (no trick – promise!) we have gathered some extra tips from a chef, expert in cooking organ meats:

Don’t forget to soak your brain meat in water or milk to drain all the blood to give your organ meat a better taste. To go faster, change the soaking liquid frequently. Also giving them a good wash and soak ensures you haven’t left any bone fragments in it – a key health hazard that could cost you a few points in an inspection or a bad review from your customers!

Grand safety finale with the creepiest food trend of all: blood! 🩸

cooking with blood: guidance on how to be safe

Ready to swap your classic egg batter for a much creepier thickener? Here’s how to stay safe when using blood in your recipes! Keep in mind here we mean animal blood, typically from pigs. When handling your “liquid meat”, keep following the classic hygiene routines that you would use when handling raw food. Dedicate preparation areas and storage areas, disinfect any surface or utensils that were used when handling fresh blood.

On top of that, to ensure fresh and safe food for your customers, carefully choose your blood supplier – not your nasty local vampire! For example, if you are to purchase pig’s blood, check that it is certified as “edible” which means it has been checked and the blood is coming from a healthy animal. Indeed, this will mean it was inspected ante- and post-mortem. Pig blood also must come from a country free of classical swine fever. You don’t want your food business to make the next big headline with a new illness outbreak. 

Finally, similarily to meat, cook thoroughly to avoid any other bacteria contamination. Raw blood just isn’t a thing. If you use it in your next bloody chocolate brownie for extra thrills, do so safely. Make sure to add your blood handling hazard checks in your HACCP and do trace the blood from supplier to plate to protect your business. Fresh blood should be stored hygienically at a temperature of 3°C or less. UnBOOlievably easy.

Putting the creepiest food trends into one spooky menu

Looking for some inspiration to add some of these creepiest food trends? Here’s our inspirational Halloween, thrills-guaranteed menu:

Appetizer

Frightful crispy beef liver crisps. Love at first bite.

Starter

Heart-warming beef heart meatloaf muffins. Too cute to spook right?

Main

Golden crisp deep fried tarantula and its cracking worm meal slaw.

Dessert

Creep it real with a Crawling Cricket Cobbler.

spooky menu with all of the latest and creepiest food trends in a few pictures
From left to right: Heart Meatloaf Muffins from Realfood RN, fried tarentula from Chef Gordon's & Wormeal slaw from Daniella Martins (Time Magazine)

Fancy some help with your food safety? Keen to finally ditch all paperwork? We can help! Promise, our team is very lovely and you won’t need garlic at your front door… just a helping hand to help you with digital checklists, auditing, automatic temperature monitoring and more! On that note, the Navitas Safety team wishes you a safe Halloween! 🎃

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