The first time I read about China’s singing crickets was in “Empress Orchid” by Anchee Min. Retired concubines spent time carving gourds where these crickets lived to entertain empresses, emperors and princes.
Then I learned about China’s fighting critics from a comment left on this Blog, and there was a link included.
While writing this post, I Googled the subject. In Gardening4us.com, Catherine Dougherty tells us, “cricket culture in China dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD).”
She says, “It was during this time the crickets first became respected for their powerful ability to ‘sing’ and a cult formed to capture and cage them. And in the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1276 AD)… cricket fighting became popular.”
In TrueUp.net, Kim says, “The Chinese consider the cricket to be a metaphor for summer and courage…”
In addition, Pacific Pest Inc. says, “Crickets are popular pets and are considered good luck in some countries; in China, crickets are sometimes kept in cages, and various species of crickets are a part of people’s diets … and are considered delicacies of high cuisine in places like Mexico and China.” Soon, the United States may be added to this list—Exo, a U.S. company, is producing protein bars from cricket flower. Exo says, “After cleaning the crickets, we dry them to remove the moisture and mill them into fine flour. The result is slightly nutty tasting flour that is high in protein and micronutrients.”
Then from Home Made in China, we learn from Gogovivi, who is based in Qingdao, North China that, “Summer used to mean picking berries in the yard and making jam, canning green beans, going to the farmer’s market, BBQs, lawn mowing, hiking, swimming. Now my whole family looks forward to the arrival of singing crickets.”
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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You know what, I’ve been in China for well over two years now and your great insights into Chinese culture and the mentality of Chinese people. Right now I work for this company called Teaching Nomad dot com and I write a good deal of content about living and working in China. If you don’t mind I’d like to use some of the ideas in your blog and explore them further. Great Job!
by the way, do many people here eat the crickets?
Thank you. I don’t mind if you explore some of the information that appears in this blog. But don’t forget that China is changing fast and if you visit an area I wrote about from a visit that took place years ago, it may not be the same today. As for the crickets, I have no idea how many people eat them, but from what I’ve read, they are a good source of protein and there’s a lot of poverty and hunger in the world. Where there is hunger, anything that is edible—and even stuff we shouldn’t eat—is at risk of consumption. I’ve read that people will even eat dirt when they are desperate enough.
The U.N. says “Some 805 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth. The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 13.5 percent of the population is undernourished. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.”