Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snacking on Spiders

During my visit to Cambodia several years ago, I was eager to try a variety of local dishes. However, there was some hesitation mixed in with my eagerness for one item I ate.

cooked tarantula spider, peanuts, and a glass of beer

As seen in the photo, a large glass of beer helped me prepare to eat a spider. It worked (a little), and I managed to eat everything except, as advised, the abdomen. The experience was most similar to eating a soft-shelled crab. In fact, I would have enjoyed it if I had not known I was eating a spider. But that fact was hard to ignore. Despite the repulsion I had to overcome, part of me was able to enjoy the spider's subtle and unique flavor.

At a more upscale restaurant in Phnom Penh I recently had the opportunity to try spiders again.

a gourmet dish of tarantula spiders

Several spiders were provided in the appetizer dish, but they were smaller than the previous spider. Most remarkable to me was that I didn't feel like I was overcoming any strong inhibitions this time. Although the dipping sauce was flavorful, the spiders had no distinct taste themselves--just crunchiness.

So based on my experiences, my advice is to try the larger spiders. Maybe they're tastier.

And if it's your first time, ordering a beer might not hurt.