NEW YORK - He is an intrepid astronaut and a legend in the space exploration community for making the most space walks. But even he balked when he saw some of the items on the menu at the 110th Explorers Club dinner in New York on Saturday.
Mr Michael Lopez-Alegria attended the annual event - the Academy Awards for people who venture into uncharted areas - where items such as whole alligators, cockroaches and goat penises were served.
"I'd have to be pretty hungry before I attempt eating some of those things. Some of them look kind of gnarly," the New York Daily News quoted Mr Lopez-Alegria, 55, as saying.
But he added: "I ate some ants and they were pretty good."
The dinner items weighed more than a tonne in all and included several 2m-long alligators, "a lot" of fungus and kelp and 15,000 insects, said Mr Gene Rurka, the club member who organised the funky event with over 30 other people.
"The message I'm trying to bring across to people is that we're basically out of food," Mr Rurka told Live Science.
"In a few more years, we could have 9.5 billion people on Earth and we've got to feed all of these people. We have to look at alternative methods of agriculture..."
He also said that many invasive species were on the menu, hence the diners were actually doing the community a service, the newspaper reported.
Particularly interesting was dessert where the guests had chocolate-dipped strawberries with larvae and pupae "sprinkles," and cheesecake ice pops topped with mealworms and crickets.
Mr Rurka also revealed that chefs were trained to prepare the exotic dishes; for example, they were taught the proper tarantula butchering techniques.
Members of the Explorers Club have included such renowned figures as New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary and US astronaut Neil Armstrong.
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