About a week and a half ago I told you about some of the new menu items local chefs are cooking up at Safeco Field this season. There is local pizza and tacos and Chinese food. But the one thing that garnered national attention has been the grasshoppers. More specifically, the toasted grasshoppers with chile-lime salt seasoning from Poquitos, a Mexican restaurant in Capitol Hill.
“My favorite, just because it was so different, were the roasted grasshoppers from Poquitos,” food writer Frank Guanco told me. “Bugs are different, but it’s kind of cool because it’s textural, it’s a different flavor, and then when you add it on top of a taco, you have this really cool crunch to it, too. I really like that. It’s definitely super adventurous, but stepping outside your comfort zone is always a good thing.”
Personally, I predicted a few people would order the grasshoppers and after a slow season, they’d quietly vanish from the menu. But recently, a strange thing happened.
“Well, it has much to our surprise, turned into quite a thing,” said Seattle Mariners Spokesperson Rebecca Hale. “The first three games we sold out of all of the grasshoppers. If you do the math, we think it figures to be about 18,000 grasshoppers were sold over those three nights.”
Seattle eats grasshoppers
Let’s go over this again: you people ate 18,000 grasshoppers in 3 days!
“We were out and we had a big three-game series coming up last weekend against the Texas Rangers and Poquitos had to place an emergency order,” Hale said. “Their normal supplier wasn’t going to get the grasshoppers here until Saturday, so they had to find a different provider. So we brought in a shipment that came in about three o’clock Friday afternoon to get us through Friday.”
The grasshoppers usually get shipped in from an insect ranch in Oaxaca, Mexico, where they are not such a novelty and more a part of the regional cuisine. The new batch came from Texas.
“We decided to limit the number of orders that would be sold at every game,” Hale said. “Poquitos really needed a way to manage the inventory for the rest of the season. So there will only be 312 orders available for any game; 312, of course, is Edgar Martinez’s lifetime batting average. And since they’re available at Edgar’s Cantina, we thought there was some nice symmetry there. It’s possible that there will be games where we don’t sell through, but there will be some that I think [you should] get there a little early.”
If you’re lucky enough to snag Safeco’s newest and hottest culinary item, grasshoppers, here’s how you eat them.
“Some people just eat them out of the little container as either a dare or a snack,” Hale said. “Others like to sprinkle them on top of the tacos. That’s how they eat them in Mexico. Either you can buy them in the market in a little plastic bag and you eat them like a snack, like a sunflower seed or a potato chip. Or you put them on top of something and its just a little flavor enhancer.”
Safeco Field was one of the first ballparks in the nation to hire a local chef to diversify and gussy up their menu. A lot of people are pushing insects as a more sustainable and affordable way to get protein into your diet, so perhaps Safeco Field will continue to be a trendsetter in the insect eating domain.