Commonly eaten creepy-crawlies and where you can sample them
Scorpions are a common snack in China, food carts in Thailand sell a variety of deep-fried bugs, and the tarantula spider is Cambodia’s answer to soft shell crabs. And then there’s the mezcal worm
For urban dwellers, the thought of eating creepy-crawlies might make your hair stand on end, or at least churn your stomach. But many people around the world eat insects as part of their daily diet and for some, they are a delicacy. We take a look at various dishes from around the globe.
Scorpions are cooked in many different ways in China – roasted, fried or grilled and a stick of three can be bought for HK$25.
Have a penchant for crunchy food? Grab a bag of deep-fried bugs from the food carts in Thailand. There are plenty to choose from – grasshoppers, giant water bugs, silkworms and bamboo worms. The best deal is to get a standard bag to try a bit of each.
If you want something more spine chilling, try fried tarantulas in Cambodia. Unlike other fried insects, they aren’t crispy. Some say well cooked ones melt in the mouth and taste like soft-shelled crab.
If you’re drinking mezcal, a Mexican drink distilled from the sap of the agave plant, and you find a worm in your bottle, don’t freak out. The larva, usually a gusano rojo (red worm), didn’t get there by itself. There are all sorts of theories about why artisanal producers add the worm to the spirit. Some say it’s a gimmick to attract more customers, others say it adds flavour to the alcohol. The best snack to go with your mezcal, so they say, is chapulines (grasshoppers).
In Vietnam, a little more effort is put into cooking insects. One typical dish is steamed glutinous rice with ant eggs served on coconut leaves. Spices, chilli, fried shallots and other ingredients are added to bring out the flavour.