SPRINGFIELD-It’s called taking one for Team Early & Often.
After covering Gov. Pat Quinn’s ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Illinois State Fair Friday, I stumbled upon what has to be the grossest food offering on the fairgrounds this year: insect-covered pizza.
For $10 a slice, a place out of Ohio called Swain’s Pizza on a Stick will serve up scorpion-covered pizza or cricket-covered pizza. My choicewas a slice of cheese pizza with a handful of mealworms on top.
I’ll try anything once.
Chris Swain, nephew of the business’ main proprietor, took the slice of cheese pizza over to a spot in his food trailer with different containers of the creepy crawlers, reached his hand inside and sprinkled the dried-out, inch-long critters atop my pizza.
“After you get over the bug part, it doesn’t taste horrible,” Swain confided as he handed me my plate of instant, wormy protein and said he’d sold two similar bug-infested slices to workers on Thursday. “These are kind of spicy.”
With two of my statehouse pressroom colleagues looking on, I bit down on the slice, severing one of the worms in half and feeling both revulsed and a little like Patti Blagojevich, who gained national fame — or curiosity — a few years back for her televised eating of a live spider.
In my case, I was only eating a dead bug.
Honestly, there wasn’t much of a taste. It was a little crunchy, not unlike a slimmed-down Cheetoh but minus the saltiness.
Afterwards, there was a definite need for some dental floss to get that horrible stuff people feed to their reptilian pets out of my teeth.
So Gov. Quinn and Bruce Rauner, as you prepare for the big political days coming up at the fair next week, the challenge is on.
Let’s see one of you guys try this.