A bugs life in Thailand

A bugs life in Thailand isn’t worth much and it doesn’t last particularly long either. You see, if it crawls, fly’s, jumps, or just stands still it gets eaten…..Thais love bugs. At least the rural Thai people do. They grew up eating bugs and wherever you find rural Thais you’ll find bug carts cooking and selling them. You’ll see the bug carts if you go to Thailand because rural Thais are everywhere especially in the tourist areas living and working and eating bugs. Some bug carts cater to the discerning palate….others offer a veritable smorgasborg of mouth watering critters.

So, you find yourself in Thailand and you come face to face with a bug cart and you want to sample one or two…but your not quite sure which ones.Well, thats where I come in.. I may not be Zagat qualified to review bugs but I’ve had my fair share and think I can accurately describe the subtle nuances of a bbq’d scorpion or the pleasure of eating your first cockroach :)

The first thing I recommend before selecting your bugs of choice is to have a good drink at the ready…preferably alcoholic in nature. You need to cleanse your palate before you begin. After you’ve cleansed your palate for an hour or two ( 6-8 drinks should do) you’re ready to begin. Below is a guide to some of the bugs available to help make your choice a little easier.

Grasshoppers: Grasshoppers are fried and come in two varieties…large and small. A professional bug eater will warn you to pull the legs and wings off before eating, a newbie to the scene will do the same after they stop choking….legs don’t go down well. The large variety actually tastes pretty good to me…kind of like popcorn but not. Once you get past the fact that you are eating a bug they aren’t too bad. The small variety tastes a little like burnt popcorn. Maybe its because they fry up real fast and have little meat or maybe mine were burnt. I give grasshoppers 4 stars and if you’re only going to try one bug this is the one to try!

Beetles: Fried as well….small, black, crunchy. I can’t really remember the taste as I cleansed my palate a lot that night but they weren’t horrible. I have to give beetles 2 stars because in the bug world they really don’t rate high.

Grubs: See Beetles.

Frog: Ok, frogs aren’t bugs but all the bug carts have em and when in Thailand… The first thing you’ll notice is that your frog is small and they come in collectible poses….thats a nice way of saying they are fried alive and they come out looking like they were fried alive….but if you’ve cleansed your palate properly you won’t care much. Honestly the frogs taste great….matter of fact they taste like fried chicken to me and I ate them by the plateful a few times. I didn’t even need to cleanse my palate(get drunk)although I admit I did always wash them down with beer. Frogs I give 5 out of 5 stars ..tasty, filling, and fun to play with especially in a bar where people can’t believe you’re eating these things.

Eels: Pretty much the same as frogs and actually not bad…the big plus is they don’t have eyes or really a discernible head to mock you as you try to put it in your mouth. 4 stars for eels only because they aren’t frogs.

Scorpions: I found myself looking for scorpions for days. Not every bug cart has them but they are plentiful if you know where to look. I don’t know why I was fascinated by the thought of eating one but I was. And one night in May of 2007 after cleansing my palate for hours a plate appeared at my table. Scorpions are an upgrade to the every day bug…menacing while alive and equally so while dead and being aimed at your mouth. I don’t know if it was the claws or the eyes staring at me…but you can bet the legs and the stinger still attached made me rethink the whole bug eating experience.

I’m not sure if they are fried or cooked over coals as they just appeared miraculously on a plate and cooked but when contemplating eating a scorpion for the first time it’s not really the cooking method that interests you. One thing is for sure …they are crunchy and crunchy is always good. I started with the claws and worked backwards. The claws were very crunchy with a slight burnt taste but when you get to the body thats where the meat is. Also very crunchy the main part of the body has a burnt crablike taste. Not an easy taste to describe but overall not bad. Scorpions get 3 stars…crunchy is good but due to the look of a scorpion hard to actually get in your mouth. The pic above is really me eating a scorpion.

Cockroach: First I have to explain that I’m not talking about your run of the mill cockroach found in many homes and fine dining establishments in the world. No, I’m talking the free range( rice patty) variety that is quite large….I mean Madagascar hissing roach large. Now scorpions are kinda scary but cockroaches are even worse. In western society we see cockroaches for what they are dirty nasty creatures that you stomp on. Unfortunately for me I was caught off guard on the way back to my hotel in Pattaya one night and although my palate was cleansed it wasn’t cleansed enough but I was determined to try it all. The professional bug eater (a little thai girl) prepared the roach for me by removing its legs then she showed me how to properly eat it. She grabbed it by its head and inserted the thorax into her mouth and bit down while pulling the thorax away from the head. I have to say this is the one I had the most problem with.

Surprisingly the taste was very sweet to me not in a good sweet way but like a cockroach sweet way. If I didn’t know what it was it probably wouldn’t be bad but when you know you’re eating a cockroach it’s never good. 1 star for the cockroach and not for those weak of heart or stomach.

Tarantula: This one has eluded me. I haven’t found one yet….but there is always next time. Not quite sure if I’ll be able to eat one but you can bet I’ll be 3 sheets to….I mean my palate will be properly cleansed and then some before I try!

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  1. Oct 1, 2007: from pligg.com

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