Fried crickets

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I wrote previously about eating scorpion here in China, but that wasn’t the first time I had tried eating insects (technically scorpions aren’t insects, of course). On a trip to Thailand two or three years ago I was browsing the local market in the town of Chiang Rai when I noticed a stall selling fried crickets. I was eyeing them out, but didn’t dare try. I exchanged some nervous smiles with a local girl who was thinking about buying some.

Later I came across another stall selling cricket, and low and behold that same girl was there actually buying a bagful of the little critters. She spotted me and held up her bag offering me a sample. It would be rude to say no, and it was a great chance to try without having to buy a whole bag, so I indulged myself.

I was surprised by how much I liked this local snack. There was no disgusting taste, which I was afraid of. In fact it didn’t taste like much at all. It was, as is so often the case, a textural thing. The crickets were crispy and crunchy, and with some added salt and chili reminded me mostly of potato chips.

I think that was my first foray into tasting the unknown. If I hadn’t taken that girl’s offer this blog might never had existed.

Fear Factor – 8 / Taste Test – 8

 

Fried Scorpion

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Insects and arachnids are eaten the world over. It’s only in the so-called western countries that we deem it strange. Here in China it’s not as common to eat insects as it once was, but you’ll still find it in certain places.

The tourist markets in Beijing are filled with creepy crawlers on a stick, but in the southern province of Yunnan you can get a more authentic taste. I recently came across some of the more Beijing-style insects at a food festival in Lanzhou, where I live. My dish of choice for the day was scorpion.

There were small scorpions on a stick, and huge ones, but as I was with friends I went for the small ones so we could share. Everybody was bit hesitant, some very hesitant, but in the end we all agreed it was actually pretty good eating.

The scorpions were extremely crunchy, and had a slight savory and salty taste. There was no foul intestinal taste whatsoever. The fleshy part of the body had a slight chew to it like beef jerky. The whole thing reminded me of crispy fried chicken skin, crispy, crunchy, and salty. Darn it, I should have bought more.

Fear Factor – 6 / Taste Test – 9

Escargots

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Living in Holland, I would never have imagined eating snails, even if it has a fancy name and is baked with loads of garlic. When you’re on holiday, however, you tend to be much braver when it comes to trying out certain foods. When I went to Paris on a city break I found myself stealing a few bites of my friend’s escargots.

Being hesitant to try out different foods is often a mental thing. I mean, why would someone be happy to eat the meat of a pig or a cow, but be grossed out by the idea of eating the meat of a donkey. Knowing full well I can’t honestly say I dislike something without ever having tried it, I went ahead and took a bite.

To my surprise the escargots were not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. In fact, I rather liked them. The taste of the snails is masked by the herbs, butter and garlic, which is a combination I’ve always been drawn to. Snails will never become my favorite meal though, as there is a slight semi-rubbery texture that just doesn’t match my palate.

Fear Factor – 6 / Taste Test – 7