Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bugs and Beer in Bangkok

From bottom: crickets, some kinda of larvae, mealworms and scorpions, and grasshoppers

After a bit of a walk down the street and into the surrounding alleyways, we encountered a couple stalls selling fried bugs. Take your pick; they featured everything from a (relatively) safe mealworm to the more tentacled crickets, gangly grasshoppers, some kind of larvae, some bigger winged bug (Madagascaran beatle or something??)...and eventually the pinnacle of it all: scorpions. I started out first with a simple grasshopper (he charged me 5 Baht, or US$0.13 for a single insect), which, based on a previous experience with deep fried crickets in Taiwan, I had originally expected to be rather light, salty, and greasy, even if it looked like something out of Alien. It wasn't bad, honestly, but I was hoping for something more dry and potato-chip like. Instead, what I got was a bug that was a bit mushy in some parts (the Maggi sauce that he sprayed on didn't help that, and it just covered up the taste anyway). The grasshopper’s exoskeleton was also a bit thicker than I was expecting, thus leaving some mildly disturbing bits of insect parts stuck inside my upper mouth.

Cheers BeerWe were distracted by some alcohol afterwards, starting with this local beer called Cheers, claiming to be "full-flavored smooth beer" on the label but on the contrary having little or no flavor at all (and just leaving one feeling unnecessarily bloated in the end). What an unnecessary waste of stomach space; I'll definitely pass on this one next time.

But one bottle of that harsh (but dirt cheap) local Sang Som rum (and Coke) later (consumed by a few of us), we somehow found our way back to one of the bug stalls after the Bangkok-regulated 1 AM closing. I decided to pick up some of the meal worms this time. These were much better than the grasshopper. They were very smoky in taste, and a bit rougher in texture, almost to the point where it really reminded me of beef jerky a bit. I also picked up a cricket while I was at it; this one tasted the most bug-like, but wasn't that bad in the end. I never did get around to trying the scorpion, but I was told that it was rather mushy in the middle, which just didn't really appeal to me. I'd hate to think of how mushy that really big Madagascaran beetle (?) must have been like. Mmm…tasty bugs!


Leonid Brezhnev said...

I enjoy your selfconscious-free narrative style.
and also the gastronomical curiosity.
i also had a cricket i think, not too bad.

Anonymous said...

Interesting recent article on this topic in NY Times: