When the family planned a trip to Thailand, I had two things on my agenda. Eat every thing no matter how exotic and pet a tiger. I managed the first and the second…well, it will have to wait for my next trip. Thai food by and large was fantastic. Spicy, coconut-y and fishy. All the things I like in food. But there are some memories about thai food that are more intense than others.
On our way out of the Walking Street in Pattaya, I came across a street vendor selling fried insects. On the menu were crickets (Jing Leed), silk worms, water bugs (Maeng Da), scorpions, grass hoppers (Tak Ga Tan), wood worms (Non Mai) and bamboo insects (Non Pai). It was a truly gut churning display. But I had decided to try everything and so try it I did. I took a plate with an assortment of crickets, scorpions, grass hoppers, silk worms and wood worms. The stall owner fried them in a wok and presented them to me after dusting them with some spices. And though I would like to say just how horrible it was to eat these critters, I must admit that they tasted quite nice. I would even have a bag of crickets on the go if I had another shot at it. The only insect that presented a challenge was the scorpion. Despite removing the tail and head, it was still a bit too crunchy and insect-y for ones liking.
Further investigation revealed that the insects are cooked in a mix of Golden Mountain Sauce (Soya bean sauce, water, sugar and salt) and Thai pepper powder. I also found out that eating insects is not as weird as I thought it was. It seems it is quite a common snack in Africa as well as Central and South America – where they greatly prize edible flies and ant eggs. Insects are said to be very healthy being low in fat (Do I see a new celebrity diet fad coming ;-)), and high on protiens, iron and calcium. Also in the future insects maybe a viable food option as the cost of meats is going to increase hugely. There are plenty of people who encourage the eating of insects and an interesting article by Vincent M. Holt (1885) can be found at http://bugsandbeasts.com/whynoteatinsects/.
So I say, let go of your inhibitions and the next time you see a roach…don’t squish it – cook it!!!!!