Jungle Tucker Challenge

One of the great things about travel is the opportunity to try new and interesting foods, as well as dishes you already love but in their place of origin, like a proper Pho (noodle soup) in Vietnam or Sushi in Japan. The authenticity just makes it taste better than the pre-packaged stuff we get in the UK. However, there are times when authentic local food just doesn’t float my boat and I’ve been very happy to politely turn down Balut (a half developed duck embryo boiled in the egg shell) in China and  Pidan (an egg buried in clay, ash and salt for anything from a few weeks to few months so that the yolk becomes dark green and the white turns into a brown jelly) in China. In fact, now I come to think of it, what is it with China and ruining perfectly good eggs?

Anyway, on my travels recently in Cambodia we stopped at a roadside rest area and they had a selection of fried insects and arachnids on offer. Obviously I tried some of them.

Bowl of fried crickets
Bowl of fried crickets

Crickets: I’d eaten crickets before in Malaysia so I knew what I was getting into. They were crunchy, nutty and I could happily chew on a bag full as a replacement for popcorn at the cinema (although I would happily chew my fingernails instead of popcorn. I’ve never understood that stuff)

Bowl of fried tarantulas
Bowl of fried tarantulas

Tarantula: Slightly chewier than the crickets due in part to being a bit chunkier I think, but also quite pleasant. The one I had had been fried in some kind of sauce that I couldn’t quite place but tasted a bit fruity. I’m not sure I would want to eat more than one in a sitting but it’s not something I would avoid if it cropped up again. Also on the plus side is the opportunity for everyone in the family to have a leg (unless you have a very large family).

Silkworm: The outer casing was about the same consistency as the tarantula. However, once I’d bitten through that the centre was soft and squishy, and not in a pleasant marshmallowy way, more in an unpleasant “you’ve just bitten into an insect and it’s guts are now sloshing around your mouth” way. 

Bowl of fried scorpions
Bowl of fried scorpions

Scorpion: I didn’t try the scorpion. I didn’t want my meal to end with a sting in the tail.  

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