You probably think that you are interested in pushing the boundaries of your culinary experience, of enjoying textures, tastes and flavours that you have never encountered before. The problem is that with the increasing availability of all kinds of world cuisine it becomes harder and harder to find a truly novel eating experience.
So here’s a suggestion for you.
In Koh Chang and most other parts of Thailand you can find little street stalls that sell a variety of fried insects as tasty snacks. Insects are highly nutritious and taste pretty good when you get used to the idea. It is just that for some reason we Westerners seem to have a mental block with regard to munching on a handful of bugs. This is a little odd when you look at some of the weird things that we eat. Consider the prawn or the bottom-feeding mussels and clams that we consider to be delicacies. Or think about that mouldy old stilton/roquefort/gorgonzola cheese that you enjoy so much? What about a weird old fungus that lives in the roots of trees that only special pigs can sniff out? We don’t just eat the Truffle we pay a fortune for it. As for Caviar? Don’t even go there.
So if we can eat all of these weird things then a bag of bugs should be a piece of cake (or something like that). And they really do taste pretty good. They have a kind of roasted, nutty flavour. Try and think of them as peanuts with legs. They are perfect for snacking on with a cold beer.
Here in Thailand the fried insect stalls offer plenty of different kinds of bug for you to sample. A good rule of thumb is to start small and work your way up to the larger six-legged snacks such as scorpions. It is a little easier, especially the first time you try them, when you can’t identify the constituent part that you are crunching down on.
Fried larvae (a much easier word to use in this context than maggot) have quite a sweet taste and go down a bit easier on account of being legless. Grasshoppers are recommended as well. The better stalls will give you a topping of chopped onions and the inevitable chilli that adds quite a lot to the experience.
So now you are ready to search out the bug vendors and give yourselves a new experience. Just remember to brush your teeth afterwards, the last thing that you need is come across a stray leg, wing or something even scarier a few hours later.
Images courtesy and copyright David Vinot.