A Parisian lunch topped with - mealworms?

Fancy a fresh summer salad topped with mealworms?

One Parisian chef has capitalized on new EU regulation to put them front and centre of his tasting menu.

"I'm Laurent Veyet, the chef of Inoveat restaurant. It's a restaurant that serves insect-based food."

But Veyet isn't just dangling mealworms on a hook to reel in punters, they could become a key ingredient to feeding the world's booming population.

While the mealworm may look like an unappetizing maggot, it's rich in protein, fat and fibre.

The surprisingly versatile ingredient can be used whole in curries or salads or ground down to make flour pasta, biscuits or bread.

"Pasta made from mealworm flour, mixed with sweet potato and mealworms. It's really very good, I'm not pretending. It's the ideal dish for a first-timer. There are some really interesting flavors. I find it delicious because there are flavors that we know, cereals, pasta... It has a classic taste, with sauteed vegetables. There aren't many people who could say they don't like that."

Veyet grows his mealworms on-site, feeding them porridge oats and vegetables.

They live for anywhere between four to twelve months before dying naturally - at which point, they are collected to be cooked.

In January the European Union gave the green light, deeming the mealworm fit for human consumption.

By May, they could be taken to market.

Mealworms, and insects more generally, could offer a sustainable and low carbon-emission food source for the future.

EU Commission health and food safety spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker: "Already in our farm-to-fork strategy, we indicated that insects are a very good alternative for other sources of protein. You have to know that we are facing quite a lot of important challenges. We have population growth, we have environmental pressure, the fact there is growing demand for proteins and so on. In that context, insects can offer a really interesting alternative. Insects are healthy, they are nutritious, they offer minerals, vitamins, fats and therefore they can really help us with a switch to a more sustainable and healthy diet and food system."

So they could be a green food source but the proof, really, is in the pudding.

At Veyet's restaurant, the ornate dishes were getting approving nods from his adventurous clientele.

[Diner Soheil Ayari, saying:] "I feel like I am in a traditional restaurant, except that the appearance of what I'm eating is not the same. Honestly though, the tastes are very similar."

For Veyet, the challenge is two-fold: winning over public opinion and learning how to match the taste with other foods.

"Insects are not yet well known and, in cooking, we have never used them as an ingredient. So you have to find the right flavors, the right accompaniments. All that is fascinating, any chef will tell you the same thing, it's just that it's has not yet been done with insects."

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