Deep Fried Spiders
I first came across this in the north of Cambodia. It is seriously hard to place mind over matter and chow down on a deep fried Tarantula. These are big critters and take a bit of nerve to eat. But they are very popular with the locals in some parts of the region.
It seems like this is something that everyone has to do once just to say that they have done it. Very popular on the streets of Bangkok, they have sort of ‘pick-and-mix’ carts where you can sample them all. The locals are very quick to point out that they contain three times as much protein as chicken. I am equally quick to reply that I’d rather eat three times as much chicken.
I actually quite like the taste of frog. It is predictably like eating chicken, but it’s pleasant enough and when accompanied by superb Kampot pepper and lime dip it is really lovely. It’s just a case of getting your head round it really. It is sold throughout the region and is very popular in Vietnam.
Many of the cultures here are strong on machismo; nothing demonstrates this more than the “Snake 7 Ways” in Vietnam. A recent victim was Chef Gordon Ramsey on his tour of the region. More popular in the north of the country. The guest of honour gets to swallow the still beating heart in a glass of rice wine. They also drink the bile; not for the faint hearted and definitely not for me.
Again this is a popular peasant dish through the region and is found throughout Cambodia and in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. In many poor areas rats are simply seen as just another form of protein. Attitudes in the West of course, mean than many visitors find this a very strange food source.
The subject of much controversy and high emotion, the eating of dog is still quite popular amongst many Vietnamese. Whereas in the West they are seen as ‘man’s best friend’ and the family pet, again in parts of Southeast Asia, they are just another animal to be farmed and eaten. However in recent years, dog thieves have stirred up strong emotions by stealing family pets. In some cases retributed has been swift and fatal.