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Tastes like ... tarantula?! This burger has a creepy, crawly secret ingredient

One burger joint is taking tastebuds on a wild ride with unique proteins from around the world.
by Erica Chayes Wida / / Source: TODAY

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An pricey burger that's making waves isn't just a meal — it may truly cause sheer panic among some unsuspecting diners.

Bull City Burger and Brewery in Durham, North Carolina, is a daredevil diner's dream, especially during the month of April, because right now they're serving up a burger topped with a crispy, crunchy tarantula.

The Southern establishment that prides itself on serving pasture-raised meats, is offering savory eats from around the world for the entire month to celebrate different cultures, while inviting patrons to expand their palates ... if they have the stomach to do it.

Some of the meats are a bit more familiar than spider. There's turkey, boar, bison, alligator, duck, rabbit and even rocky mountain oysters. While others are just waiting to take tastebuds on a truly wild ride, like python, camel, ostrich, reindeer, elk, caribou and, yes, more bugs.

The signature item that's really causing some food fright is the tarantula burger, which is actually only available by winning a lottery at the restaurant (there are fewer than 20 burgers available). The tarantula burger features a pasture-raised beef patty, topped with one oven-roasted tarantula and a spicy chili sauce. It's served with with fries for $30. Who knew tarantulas were so expensive?! They're considered a delicacy in Cambodia and are becoming increasingly hard to find throughout the country.

As for the lottery, big edible bugs are actually in short supply as Bull City Burger noted, "Some meats are extremely limited and some are very expensive."

Some tweeters appear to be experienced critter crunchers and claim that they are all for eating tarantulas as a delicacy, or even by the bag.

Others are curious about the texture and taste.

One burger taster wrote that each bite tasted different, but that it was slightly bitter overall.

And one tweeter was kind enough to worry about the tarantula's well-being ... but, strangely enough, not the cow's!

And yet another (and many others across social media) is heading for the hills.

While this creepy-crawly burger may have customers either craving or cringing, bug proteins have been an appreciated source of nutrients and protein for years, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy entomophagy (the practice of eating insects), whether it's by getting buzzed on bee cocktails or snacking on protein bars made with cricket flour.

Chef David George Gordon, the Seattle-based author of "Eat-A-Bug Cookbook," previously told TODAY that his specialty happens to be scorpion kabobs and orzo with cricket nymphs. Gordon lightens the queasy factor by comparing insects to "their aquatic cousins": shrimp, crab and crawfish. Fried, toasted or roasted, many bugs just taste like airy, crispy bites with a similar texture to Cheetos. Of course, you may wind up with a tiny leg or two caught in your teeth.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts edible insects will become more widely accepted as the population grows to approximately 9 billion people by 2050.

The organization's research showed many edible insects contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids, and that they also require far less feed than livestock (crickets need six times less feed than cattle). Harvesting insects also has a better ecological impact, since it emits less greenhouse gases.

But is eating bugs known for their toxic bites and stings even safe?

"They're completely safe to eat," Halcyon Derks, manager at Bull City Burger and Brewery, told TODAY Food via email. "They're flash frozen to them to kill them and then oven baked."

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