Insects' culinary stardom continues to rise in the U.S., with chefs and food innovators introducing the creepy crawlies to the western palate. Last night's iteration of the Future Food Salon series, which examines the culinary landscape of our future, devoted an evening to exploring the nutritional and ecological advantages to consuming crickets and other insects, and tried to convert some adventurous eaters to entomophagy.

Photographer and avid eater Scott Lynch braved the bugs and sends us this dispatch from the dinner party of the future:

The Future Food Salon promo piece promised only "cricket canapes", so I was worried that there might just be a few samples available, but no, this was a generous buffet of bug snacks and sweets. I'd never eaten crickets before (Toloache was out the night I went), nor, I don't think, any kind of bug (though there might have been a mezcal worm or two in my youth). And, frankly, insects in general kind of freak me out. But you can't go to a cricket-eating event and not eat a bunch of crickets, so I dove right in. There were plenty of "starter-entomophagist" options here, like the Cricket Crostini, which tasted mostly of the paté on which the insect was placed, and the Cricket "Falafel" skewers, which was also not terribly buggy. The crickety sweets were even more of a cover-up, especially the insanely sweet "Crittle".

Thankfully, over at the bar there were two bowls of straight-up crickets, one with salt, one without. Just big bowls of dried-up bugs. It's not like they clean and "scale" these suckers either: spindly legs, long antenna, little eyeballs, it's all here. Just to really gross myself out I put like five in my mouth at the same time, to produce a good chew, as you might with a particularly good mixture of nuts. And, honestly, it wasn't bad. It wasn't necessarily good—the flavor was subtle, maybe a little nutty—but the texture was satisfyingly crackling, and it did the bar-snack trick.

Of course there was a serious purpose to the Future Food Salon as well, and entomophagists (Greek for "eaters of insects", per the internet) are adamant that insect protein will save the planet, offering a far more sustainable, less expensive, and ecologically sound source of nutrition than animal meat. Large-scale cricket farming is the future, say they, but the event's speaker Jakub Dzamba also brought in three prototypes of his counter-top cricket farms. He told me that it takes about two weeks to grow enough crickets in one of these home models to provide dinner for a family of four, which doesn't sound nearly quick enough to bother. Also, all three were way too large for any home kitchen I've ever had here in the city. Still, there's definitely something to it, and you can see the appeal in an urban-farming kind of way.

Scott Lynch is a photographer and adventurer in New York City.