Up until a few days a go had you said to me ‘eat scorpion’ I would have said no way. I’ve seen cooked insects, reptiles and the like all over Asia and thought there is no way I’m doin’ that! That was until it became a part of my job.
As the Assistant Director and English Language consultant for Myrides Travel Adventure it’s part of my job to do inspection tours. At Myrides we always try out hotels, routes, restaurants and so on to ensure it’s something that will meet a standard pleasing to our future guests. This weeks inspection involved making a stop at restaurant that served up a bizarre fare of creepy critters, some of which I’d never imagined people eating. At least not in a restaurant.
First up on the menu was fried scorpion and live coconut worms in fish sauce, cilantro and peppers. The scorpions seemed strangely inviting as they had a sheen to them from being fried in oil and had relatively no odour (and they weren’t moving!). To eat them was quite pleasant since they were much crunchier than I imagined and the flavour was very mild. The best I can describe the taste is that of a slightly overcooked potato chip.
The coconut worms were a different story. This was something I had to work myself up for. As the worms wriggled around in the fish sauce I couldn’t get my head around putting one in my mouth. Coaxed by my coworker, Thanh, I got got up the nerve and popped one in and began to chew vigorously. I figured the faster I chew the sooner it would stop moving. To my surprise it wasn’t half bad. Since they live off coconut trees the flavor is quite sweet and complimented the condiments well. Thanh informed me that these were farmed worms and that if I ever have the chance to eat a fresh one the taste is much sweeter. If opportunity presents itself, I will definitely try.
These two rather tasty dishes was followed by two, very furry deep fried spiders. Not much to say on the spider. It wasn’t unpleasant in any way, crunchy much like the scorpion, but really no bursts of flavour here. Not even any fleshy bits, just a crusty shell. At best you get the bragging rights of eating an arachnid.
On the sweeter side of things our next two serving were earth worms and baby bees. I’m unsure of what they used to sweeten the worms, but if I were to close my eyes I could have sworn I was eating a kids cereal or snack. Sweet and crunchy. They were enjoyable and colourful that most travellers would probably give them a go. The grilled baby bees were mixed with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and then ladled onto a rice cracker with a dab of sweet chilly sauce. It seemed like the perfect snack to enjoy over a couple of cold beers. The baby bees were definitely my top pick and , for most travellers, the least intimidating.
Eating the creepy and the crawly bits has taught me a lesson. A lot of food dislikes have to do with mental preconception and individual eating habits we bring with us from our home country. I know I’m not going to like every food I try in the world, but I will certainly never pass up the opportunity to try something once. The Fear Factor style food tour is in the works at Myrides.vn. Look for future postings Facebook and Twitter and give it a go!