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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Academy of Natural Sciences's Bug Fest 2014: Beauty and the Bug (WARNING: picture heavy!)

The train ride from Norristown to Center City Philadelphia on Norristown/Manayunk Regional Rail Line was scenic and peaceful. As soon as my Independence Day Pass (SEPTA) was shown, I put on my iPod and sent a text message to Louis letting him know I was on my way; I should arrive at the Academy of Natural Sciences at 10:15am, or so I thought the schedule indicated that specific time. I took Wesley out and took a picture of us on the train.

It was 9am and I was tired, but as I listened to the mix on my iPod I looked out the window. The scenery between Miquon and Ivy Ridge was gorgeous because there was a lake that reflected the early morning rays of the sun. After Manayunk, the scene turned into a concrete jungle that was indicative we were nearing Philadelphia and I arrived MUCH earlier than expected: the train stopped at Suburban Station (my stop) at 9:40am. I had a half an hour before I would meet Louis, so I walked to Capriccio's at Cafe Cret for some breakfast and coffee.

Wesley and I enjoyed a vanilla latte and I had a spinach croissant (at a later time, I will write a review about Capriccio). I edited a piece about my first day in Detroit to kill some time. I edited half of the Detroit piece and realized it was 10:10 and I needed to start heading to the Academy of Natural Sciences. Fortunately, it was only a five minute walk.

When I arrived, Chef Zach Lehman greeted everyone and on the table were salsas with worms, apple chutney with wax worms and chocolate chip cookies. I grabbed the recipe brochure and began talking to the chef. Louis then scared me from behind and we devoured some of the salsas and chutney. It was REALLY good, even with the bugs. I liked the apple chutney the best. I had Louis take a picture of me eating it... though it's not the best picture.

The tickets were $16. I handed him his ticket (I pre-ordered the tickets; I assume they were the same price if you bought them directly at the Academy) and we went inside. We went into the dinosaur hall first and saw some of the neat critters. Sadly, the few pictures I did take in that room turned out blurry. They were stick looking bugs. After we ventured out of dinosaur hall, we visited the dioramas near the theatre. On this level, it was comic book drawing. The Blue Morpho and a Hedgehog were the super heroes we had to draw. Apparently Chef Lehman was kidnapped and I drew a comic of him getting saved. Louis drew a comic of the Blue Morpho in an Alice In Wonderland looking scene. His comic was awesome. He's such a great drawer.

After we were done the comics, we were told where the caricature drawer was and we had to go. I emphasized that to Louis. I love having caricatures done and the last time I had one I was 6 years old. The artist was cool and friendly. He asked me what bug I wanted to be and I told him a Daddy Long Legger. Apparently he never had that request and after he was finished, he took a picture of his masterpiece for his gallery.

We then went upstairs to the other dioramas and saw the bugs there. I loved the praying mantises. Praying mantises are my favorite! Next to the praying mantises were the roaches, scarabs, beetles and spiders. The South American bugs were the coolest.

 After walking around looking at these bugs, I took Louis to the butterfly garden because he said he hadn't been to the butterfly garden in 10 years. That was neat as always, but it always gets humid there! As we waited for the Bug Picassos to start, we walked around "Outside In," an exhibit for young kids where they can see live animals and play with toys to learn about nature. That was fun and they even brought out the Guinea Pig! Yes, I'm like a child when it comes to animals: I had to pet that damn Guinea pig! Afterwards, we ventured to see the Bug Picassos and that was neat. The hissing cockroaches wouldn't have any part in painting, but the maggots loved painting. The bugs made some pretty cool artwork:

Ah, yes, the cook off! That started at 1pm. Chef Zach Lehman from New Orleans was at Bug Fest last year and he won on the day I went. Jill, one of the employees of the ANS asked for volunteers for judging. I raised my hand enthusiastically and was the first volunteer. I was the first judge. Two other guys were the other judges. After the chefs were introduced, they introduced the judges and we made our way on stage. Now that was neat. I was so excited to try more bug dishes. I can honestly say that Chef Lehman had the best. He made dragonfly h'ordeuvres. The dragonfly was fried in Old Bay crusting and topped on a sauteed mushroom. Yum. :) The other chef made wax worm hush puppies and they were dry. However, I think hush puppies are meant to be dry. I rated Chef Lehman well and the others must have as well because he won.

I made the ANS's Instagram feed! :)

After I took my seat and the contest was over, more bug dishes were handed out. Louis and I had Cajun crickets, which weren't too bad. We took a selfie of that one because we're goof balls:

After we exited the auditorium, we went to the cafeteria. I needed something to drink and I finally found a coke bottle that had my name on it! I also bought a sugar cookie, which Louis and I shared.We talked about Twiztid and Monoxide. He said to me, "It seems like you and Monoxide are BFFs!" I laughed because that's a wish of mine. I showed him pictures of Monoxide without paint that are saved in my phone. Bahaha, yes, I am a tad bit obsessed with Monoxide. We ventured to the other eating area to see if Chef Lehman was there yet preparing other bug foods. He wasn't, so Louis and I decided to explore other things. We went to the Birds of Paradise exhibit. I loved it when I took mom to that exhibit and Louis hadn't seen it, so I showed him around. I love the Birds of Paradise. We then went to the gift shop, but neither of us bought anything. I saw really neat dishes with birds on them that I want to get before I move. We then went back downstairs to look at the SEPTA schedule to see the best way to Chinatown. We decided on Chinatown for dinner. We walked over the Chef Lehman and he asked me what I thought of the dragonfly. I told him I loved it and told him what I thought it tasted like. I did tell him I enjoyed it more than the hush puppy because the hush puppy was dry. He smiled. Louis and I then are more chocolate chirp cookies, salsa and the chutney. We realized that the other bug grub was going to take a while, so we left for Chinatown (I'll update about that tomorrow).

Chocolate chirp cookies.

Apple chutney with wax worms.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. It folded and crumpled as we walked the city and now it's crumpled in my clothes basket. I have to do wash today. But I can always put it under a book to flatten it.

      It was such a fun day. :)