August 30, 2007 / 4:00 AM / 10 years ago

Wasps give Japanese rice crackers a special sting

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese fan club for wasps has added the insects to rice crackers, saying the result adds a waspish scent to the traditional fare.

A wasp is pictured as it rests on a white flower at a public garden in the northern Spanish town of Santander, August 18, 2007. A Japanese fan club for wasps has added the insects to rice crackers, saying the result adds a waspish scent to the traditional fare. REUTERS/Victor Fraile

The jibachi senbei, or digger wasp rice crackers, are made in Omachi town 200 km (120 miles) northwest of Tokyo and have five or six black digger wasps each, clearly visible to the naked eye.

“Young people see the bugs and refuse to eat the senbei,” said Torao Kayatsu, the president of the Omachi digger wasp lovers club, who has been handing out sample crackers around town. “But seniors, they love them. We even have an order from a nursing home.”

Along with the waspish scent, Kayatsu said the crackers were slightly more oily than the soy-sauce flavoured traditional ones.

“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “You really just have to taste it yourself.”

A bag of 20 crackers costs 370 yen (1.60 pounds), but output may be limited as the wasps are caught in the wild for optimum flavour.

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