Will You Eat Spiders?
That sentence, that terrifying and gross sentence was the first thing out of a ladies mouth once I had saved her from an awkward foreign 'lost in translation' airport moment. Appropriate after coming to the aid of fellow traveller? I think not.
So I ask you. Would you eat spiders? Big ones. Huge hairy ones. Tarantulas... like this...
and yes, that is my arm.
Well I wouldn't eat her. That's my little mate from Tikal in Guatemala, a Mexican Red Rumped Tarantula so we're on the wrong continent but I think she's gorgeous so no, I definitely wouldn't eat her.
But this question was asked of me in Cambodia. I don't know the kind of Tarantula they have there but they're friggin huge!
So, what do you think my answer was to that strange lady glaring at me on the shuttle into Phnom Penh? You guess it.. it was a NO. Actually I was a little annoyed, so it went something like this ... "hell no, I'm a vegetarian, I don't eat anything with eyeballs so I'm definitely not going to eat something with eight!" ... eeewwww friggin weirdo. Which brings me to the question I am dying to ask all of you, my darling little travel baggers... what would you eat?
Fried cockroaches? Grasshoppers? Crickets? Perhaps something a bit squishier like silkworms... or maybe frogs. No matter which way you cook them, some things are just strange. I understand their high in protein blah blah blah so it's no big deal but I'm sorry, there's just no way that I find any fried bug appetising. Yes, even if you add chilli.
See, there is a whole town in Cambodia dedicated to the weird, the strange, the unusual insect cuisines which is appropriately called Spider Town.
How do they catch their tasty deep fried morsels you ask?
Kids. Yes, kids go out into the fields and stick their little hands into the holes in the ground and pull out giant tarantulas which they then fry up and offer as a delicacy. Huge spider = hole big enough for a childs hand.
OK that my be the most terrifying sentence I've ever typed but it's true. Adorable little Cambodian kids roam the fields, paddocks and jungle to collect tarantula's and then bring them home... for food. Just like the Khmer Rouge did back in the 70's while they were hiding out evading the other guys. You know, the bad guys.
So, driven into the jungles and wild places, they survived on anything they could get their hands on, including bugs, and lived to fight another day.
While this is an ingenious survival tactic...I just don't want to eat cockroaches. I don't care how you prepare them, it's gross. But now, it's a tourist attraction and huge part of the Cambodian history.
Bugs. Insect. Small things that crawl around and come under the term 'creepy crawlies' were all fair game and slurped up for dinner. But enough of that. If you don't want to eat bugs or spiders... which is apparently one of the biggest things to do in Cambodia according to my new weird spider lady friend from the shuttle... then what other strange stuff and curious cuisines would you try in a foreign country?
How about dried things? Would that make it better? Who cares if it's covered in flies... seriously look at those squid.
Would you eat them? Stingray soup perhaps. But you might need a Cambodian grandmother to show you how to prepare them. I mean do you use the whole stingray? Or just half. In which case, how do you cut up a dried stingray? Straight down the middle is my guess but then all the entrails will... oh god I'm stopping I can't even finish that thought without feeling sick.
Moving on. If bugs and insects are a hard no, and super dried fly covered stuff isn't your thing, then how about semi-dried fish? You know, so it's not quite dry, it's still... you know... got fish juice in it so it's a little moist.
Like these. And yes, in the market with no fly control so they've been crawling all over them.
I can actually see how these would be fine and quite tasty, flies and all. I mean add some water and you'd have an amazing seafood soup right. It just looks weird.
Which brings me to the last option of unusual foods I stumbled across when travelling. These aren't deep fried, dried or semi-dried, no these are grilled and I'm guessing all of you wouldn't hesitate to eat these.
You guessed it, stingrays and squids on sticks. Voila! On bamboo skewers for ease of eating and to save sticky fingers, these were in the Crab Market near Kep beach which offers basically any seafood you can think of... on a stick. Check out these snake-head fish... you guessed it, on sticks.
This is one of the joys of travelling. Unusual food in exotic places, opening your mind and your taste buds to new experiences, flavours and strange cuisines.
I just love that they are considerate enough to put everything on sticks so as you wander around you can gnaw on a stingray (if you don't look at their little faces because they look like they're smiling) and not get sticky gross fingers. Plus, it's recyclable and biodegradable meaning it's a greener eco-friendly way of living which I love.
So now, answer the question... what would you eat? Would you eat spiders? I'm curious to know the answer that if you found yourself in front of a giant bowl of giant fried tarantulas... would you eat them. Not on a dare, just because it's a new experience. When they look like this...
Would you? Would you really? Imagine the crispy outside and soft squishy inside as you bite into one. Alright I'll take your word for it. If you say you would then I believe you but as I said to the crazy spider lady which is what I now call her, I won't eat anything with eyeballs, let alone something with eight so it's a big 'hell NO' from me.
Or so I discovered, frogs. Street food in Cambodia is interesting to say the least. Stopping on the way home one day we came across this...
a lovely chap offering us deep fried silkworms. Or, frogs. Not sure how tasty either of those options would be so I'll leave that up to your imagination.
Our Tuk-Tuk driver said they were delicious, nutty and kind of squishy so after I threw up in my mouth a little bit we moved on to other adventures and I did actually stop for some street food on the way home... dragonfruit, carambola and some rambutans. Yup those tasty treats are right up my alley so while I am an adventurous traveller and have no problem satisfying my curiosity exploring strange lands I did discover that strange deep fried insecty type foods are not for me.