A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to eat a tarantula

The short answer to this is...quickly and with your eyes closed. We promised we would and we didn’t want to disappoint our viewing audience. It took place at Romdeng in Phnom Penh on a humid Tuesday night. My hand was shaking as I held the fuzzy, hairy, and (not just for the rhyming effect) scary little critter for the first time. I shivered to the core with the willies. But I persisted, dunking its spindly legs into a lime ginger dipping sauce and then into my uncooperative mouth. Ewww.

It was crunchy, yet chewy, with a oddly distinctive beef flavor not repulsive but not appetizing either, since the picture in my minds eye of a tarantula in my mouth was creeeeeeeepy beyond creepiness. It’s leg caught between my teeth. I closed my mouth and chewed. Telling myself: don’t puke, don’t puke.

Ron was much braver. Biting into the tarantulas head like it was a deep fried onion ring instead of a red-eyed, thick-bodied, hairy-legged spider. The waiter told us they get them alive and kicking from nearby villages, and do the dirty work in the back kitchen. A wooden toothpick through their beating heart makes a vampires killing, before defanging them and throwing them in a hot oily pan.

I’m glad I did it, but that’s probably the cliff’s edge of my adventurous eating. We tried to order a beef dish stir fried with fire ants but they were out of lemongrass. Outta lemongrass! How can you be out of lemongrass?! That’s like being out of olive oil or onions. Inconceivable. Instead we ordered noodle salad with coriander rolls and tamarind pork spare ribs with pumpkin curry. I have to say that it was the best meal we’ve had in Cambodia. Even with two vodka tonics, for liquid courage, the meal was only twenty bucks. Gotta love the crazy food in SE Asia!


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