"Crickets on the Hearth"
Food supply was always
a challenge in the Lacuna,
now that the Galactic Arms
had withdrawn and taken
the free supplies with them.
There were traders, of course,
but that required having something
to exchange for the food shipments,
and besides, nobody really wanted to be
dependent on supply lines from outside.
They had Sam the Gardener working
to turn Supply Base Bounty into a farm, so
they had some fresh fruits and vegetables.
Meat posed more of a problem, though.
There were a few vats growing meat, but
most held yeast, algae, or sea vegetables
which were all easier to culture than flesh.
Sam had tried cooking earthworms,
which actually worked, but they
needed a lot of soil or other medium
to grow in, which was also scarce.
Then one of the traders brought in
a bag of cricket flour for them to try.
"Who the hell eats crickets?"
Case said, horrified.
Sam said with a shrug.
It turned out that cricket flour
didn't have such-a-much taste
and was high in protein and fiber
along with important vitamins.
People blended it into smoothies
and baked it into loafmeals.
Sam knew that crickets could
eat all kinds of things, including
scraps from fruits and vegetables.
Back on earth, they liked to live in
compost piles, and he had those here.
So then it was just a matter of finding
someone to ship him live crickets.
Astin was happy to help with that.
The crickets were cheerful, chirpy things
that ate wilted leaves and lived happily
in stacks of cardboard inside a tub.
Sam toasted some of them and
tossed them with seasonings, so
nobody tasted anything but spices.
Toasted crickets were crunchy
and delicious and habit-forming.
"Try some Cricket Crunch?"
Sam said whenever anyone
visited Supply Base Bounty.
He discovered that while
normal people mostly refused,
fellow freaks were far more practical
about eating whatever was edible.
Plus they took up so little space
that anyone could raise crickets
in a box under the bed, and they
had more protein than beef or fish.
Sam talked Case into helping him
find old storage tubs on the station
and make up cricket-raising kits.
Those got passed around with
packages of cricket eggs for
people to hatch, and they
became quite popular.
"Here, put these in
your kitchen," Astin said,
handing him something.
Sam looked down to find
a strip of cricket stickers.
"Why?" he wondered.
"It's supposed to be
good luck to have
crickets on the hearth,"
Astin said, grinning.
Sam thought it was
a silly superstition, but
he still put up the stickers.
They were cute, and he
was coming to like crickets.
* * *
a cricket on the hearth
A sign of good health and good fortune.I'm putting this cricket statuette here because a cricket on the hearth is supposed to bring good luck.
"Dreams of Brown and Green" introduced vat-grown yeast, algae, sea vegetables, and flesh. They don't have a lot of vats, though.
"Marching Papers and Plowshares" introduced earthworms.
Edible insects often provide better nutrition than animal meat. You can shop for them at places like Edible Insects and Crunchy Critters. Here are some cricket recipes.
Roasted or dried crickets may be eaten like popcorn or chips, and most savory flavorings used for popcorn will work on crickets.
Cricket farming is easy on small or large scales. They can eat scraps, and you can gut-load them for better nutrition.
Loafmeal is the Lacuna term for vegan meatloaf.
Neurovariant people can have individual aversions to foods based on flavor, texture, or other qualities, but they do not tend to pick up unwritten social rules. So they may have no hesitation in sampling edible insects, and if the experience is pleasing, will happily go on eating them.