Monday 26 November 2018

The eating of insects

I first sampled "insect as food" back in 2002 when I was visiting Hua Hin in Thailand. I seem to recall that they were crickets and quite enjoyed them.

Fast forward to 2018 and I am yet again in Southeast Asia, this time I am in Cambodia when I encounter "insect as food". I didn't see insects for sale until I reached the tourist hotspot of Siem Reap. Wandering around the Night Market there were lots of vendors selling individual exotic insects, and arachnids, to the tourists. I saw lots of examples of small groups of tourists, most frequently young males, egging each other on to eat a tarantula or scorpion. The amount paid varied wildly since there were no prices, the cost was determined by how much the vendor could get away with, capitalism at its finest.

I felt not the slightest temptation to sample the food these vendors were selling. However, I did start thinking about the fact that I had not noticed insects for sale in the the various markets I had visited over the previous few weeks.

A few days after leaving Siem Reap I stopped for a break at a small market about 250km southeast of Siem Reap right on the NR6 highway near Skun. Finally I got to see insects for local consumption rather than for "adventurous tourists". The variety of insects for sale was huge, and unlike Siem Riep where a tourist would buy a single creature and often fail to eat the whole thing, here you could buy them by the kilo.

Here, if all you wanted was an individual exotic insect or arachnid, you could choose a live one and get it cooked to order. With the scorpions you see them remove the sting first. On this occasion I did indulge myself with a deep fried tarantula with garlic. Pretty tasty but I'm not sure it tasted much different to any other deep fried insects with garlic.