Tonight: Roach Races and Bug Grub at HMNS

Mixers & Elixers is back for a Valentine's Day special at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

By Katharine Shilcutt February 13, 2014

After a hiatus for some much-needed R&R, the Houston Museum of Natural Science has resurrected its popular Mixers & Elixers cocktail hour—and just in time for a little anti-Valentine's Day celebration.

Mixers & Elixers
February 13
7 to 10 p.m.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
5555 Hermann Park Dr.

Tonight starting at 7 p.m., the HMNS will open its doors to mingling singles (although you certainly don't have to be single to show up), who'll be able to drink and dance the night away to the New Wave sounds of the Spazmatics echoing through the Paleontology Hall. Outside, a food truck court will feature H-Town StrEATs, Good Dog Houston, and Tila's Taco Truckeria. Inside, meanwhile, will offer an entirely different spread of food.

There in the Grand Hall, the museum's resident "Bug Chef" will be preparing a variety of arthropods for the truly brave to munch on while mingling. Dave Temple, the associate curator of paleontology by day, learned from a pro—David George Gordon, author of The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook and other tomes on the subject—and is always thrilled to share his craft with willing participants.

"The thing I love about this is when you do science, you're not just stuck relying on a photograph. You can use the thing, you can touch the thing, you can use different senses," says Temple. "And in the case of entomology you can use taste." He's also a fan of mealworms, which can be ground up and used in a variety of applications, as well as dragonflies.

"Dragonflies are just absolutely gorgeous," Temple says. "You make up a nice tempura batter and fry them so their wings are very gossamer, and then you serve that with shreds of ginger and dipping sauce." Dragonflies aren't in season right now, however, he notes, so they won't be on tonight's menu. And anyway, says Temple, "dragonflies are such amazing insects, I sort of feel bad about killing them."

Mixers & Elixers events pre-date the new Paleontology Hall.

Tonight, museum-goers can look forward to mealworm-and-chocolate-battered apple slices and a few different cricket preparations. "I am going to prepare some samples from the ground up so they can taste the bug unadulterated," says Temple of the cricket. "It tastes slightly like a pecan." What you won't find on the buffet are roaches. Along with grubworm heads—which Temple says have a "bitter chemical taste"—they're among his least favorite insect to eat.

"It seems to expand in your mouth," Temple says of the pest. "Those kinds of insects trap fat in their bodies and the fat traps a chemical compound called urea, which we eliminate in the form of urine." Basically, says Temple, a roach "tastes like the smell of a wino's alley."

You'll still find the little guys elsewhere in the museum, however, as the HMNS is hosting roach races throughout the evening. For only $1, you can write the name of your ex on the back of one of those roaches. (At press time, there was not an option for then crunching that roach underneath your boot heel—not that Houstonia condones that activity.)

Tickets are $20 for the evening, and can be purchased online or at the door. Bring bills for the cash bar, and an ID to get in: Mixers & Elixers is only open to those over 21. If you miss this one, don't fret—Mixers & Elixers will take place every month at the museum through September.



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