The Explorers Club: New York’s bizarre bug banquet

When I think of the culinary delights I would probably devour while in New York, I dribble at the thought of hot dogs and onions, giant pretzels and fruity cocktails. I’m guessing you’re thinking along similar lines, right? Well how about if I was to tell that, every year, the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria in New York played host to one of the world’s strangest banquets? Not for the weak-stomached (so me, then), this gruesome feast consists of pickled eyeballs, maggot-covered strawberries and – horror of horrors – deep-fried tarantula!

Gene Rurka

This is Gene Rurka, the creator of this unusual feast, which he lays on for 1,300 members of the Explorers Club at up to $1,000 per head! That’s a whole lot of money for food you’ll probably see again before the night is out… but each to their own!

The Explorers Club is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space or, as I like to think of it, a club for crazy people with too much money in their pockets. These huge spiders he’s proudly presenting are soaked in brandy before being battered and deep fried. I’m hoping we don’t see these down the chippy anytime soon!

Deep-fried tarantulas

Now, how’s this for a starter? Crunchy crickets and scorpions served in a cheese-filled pastry case. Sounds delicious, right? Nope, I don’t think so either. Pass the prawn cocktail, please!

Now you’ve kick-started your appetite, how do you fancy a little alligator to chomp into? It’s moist and delicious, I hear, and great if you like your food with a little bite! (Sorry, I had to!)

Do you like an olive in your martini? Well, this is just soooo last year according to Gene, and cow eyeballs are the only garnishes you shall find if you dare to attend one of his banquets. Nothing like something staring up at you whilst you’re trying to quench your thirst. Make mine water, no ice!

What’s that, you say? You can’t decide what crunchy, oozy delight to choose from? Why not help yourself to a little something from the platter? Giant ants, crispy scorpions or brandy-soaked spiders – the choice is yours! Seconds anyone?!

Photo credits: Epicurious and

Enjoyed this post? Share it

About Samantha Trusler

Samantha Trusler

One of the most amazing experiences I have had whilst travelling abroad was driving a 4×4 on Fraser Island, Australia. This is the world’s biggest sand island and the only way to get around this terrain is by four-wheel drive. Cue the bumpy ride and trying to not topple over or get stuck in the sand!

This was an incredible three days during which I slept in a tent by the beach, saw dingoes running along the shore, rescued a sea turtle that was stranded on the sand and saw my first shooting star! A visit to Lake McKenzie with its crystal clear water and white sand was the cherry on top and I believe this stunning island should be on everyone’s to-do list!

Samantha used to work in our customer service team

Places mentioned in this post

, , , ,