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The Grub Trail: Part 2

January 27, 2014

Thailand: my first taste

After two days of arriving in the far-east, on the Grub trail, I tasted my first bugs: crickets and grasshoppers. I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough for the scorpions yet.

Some context is needed: I arrived in Thailand back in November 2012, the first stop on a six month tour in search of the history and culture of eating insects in Asia, as well as any recipes I could record, in the hope that they taste good enough for me to start something on my return.

Insects aren’t just eaten in Asia – 80{e22e6aedff5e38d91c0a19c95f1b1c60988eef15dbec6ba65a655bbe267d2fba} of the world’s nations have insects as part of their diet. I just thought I needed to start somewhere, and Asia has the greatest concentration of insect eating countries. Plus, it’s cheap, and having recently quit my job I felt some frugality was needed.

This has been a slight obsession of mine over the last two years; those who know me will tell you my chat has been rather single-minded. Anyway, this is my first blog and I don’t want to run out of things to say, and if people start reading this it is probably because they are interested in the insects and not me.

So, onto my first authentic experience…I was staying with some friends who were living in Bangkok, to help me ease into the mission, and we were walking along Bangkok’s famous traveller ghetto, Th Khao San, we turned a corner and there it was: a hand cart serving everything from grubs to scorpions. I wasn’t expecting it and being with my friends I strangely became a little nervous. I had to man up; this is why I was there (not just on a mammoth holiday I kept telling myself) and I made a promise that whenever the opportunity presented itself, I needed to take it.

I start asking the vendor what each morsel was: frogs, grubs, crickets, grasshoppers, and four of the meanest scorpions you have ever seen! I opt for the safety of a bag of grasshoppers and crickets! He sprays soya sauce through a garden spray. My friend asks if it was pesticide to make sure they were dead. Nice.

By now, I am drawing quite a crowd of tourists and I have an audience for my first experience. No turning back now! I put a smaller cricket in my mouth and crunch. Crunch and salt. The cameras from my audience are relentless so I thought by eating the larger grasshopper I will satisfy their appetites. Now the grasshopper has got some chew, and whilst it is still extremely salty from the soya, it has a more unique nutty taste than the cricket.

A can of...

I need to get better at trying to describe the tastes but I’ll warm up to it. Plus, on the street they are fried to shit and all have a bacon like taste. And the plan was to seek out the true ways of eating these delicacies. There will be photos and videos – not just my chat, I promise. (I was caught out that first time and although there was a lot of photos being taken, especially by a French guy who I ended sharing my bag with – helping Anglo-French relations – I didn’t give him my details to send them on.)

This is my first foray in blogging. I’m not a writer (so be easy on me) but I have a particular interest, and it seems, given the reaction of the people whose ears I’ve been chewing, I’m not alone in my curiosity.

To keep you interested, as I stated at the beginning of this post, I am building up to the heavy weights of the creepy crawly world: giant beetles, scorpions and taruntulas. Mmmm.

 

Edible Insects