NOTE: This post is not for the squeamish!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever tried? Rabbit, Alligator maybe Durian? How about Tarantula? One thing I love about travelling is trying all of the different, unique and amazing cuisine that each country, culture and centuries of civilization have developed.
I’ve tried some strange things from Alligator in the Philippines to chicken feet in Hong Kong and a ton of other things (many of which I probably don’t even want to know what they are) in between but perhaps the weirdest thing I’ve ever sampled is Tarantula in Cambodia.
I loved my time in Siem Reap, Cambodia and would go back again in a heartbeat. I think too many people have developed too much of a fear for this country based on previous conflicts in and around this part of the world that it is a far too overlooked destination. The country has a vast history and have managed to maintain a lot of its history and culture through the ages that make it a truly magnificent place to visit.
In this country you can get a lot of amazing Asian cuisine and dishes for a mere couple dollars. Go for dinner at a nice restaurant and a full plate of food and a draft beer will cost you a mere $5 even in the most touristy of places. Head down many of the popular streets in Siem Reap and you’ll find food carts with items from fresh fruits (grown in country and picked that morning) to smoothies, stir fries, crickets, snakes and yes, tarantulas.
There are not many places in the world serving up fried tarantula so when I was here I just had to try one. When in Cambodia, do as the Cambodians do! (or something along those lines). I was walking down one of the main streets on night in Siem Reap when I saw an entrepreneurial minded little boy operating a food cart probably trying to make ends meat for his family. On his cart he had platters of crickets, fried snake-kabob’s and…tarantulas! For the mere price of $1 each I figured i’d start with one of the snake kabob’s for an appetizer and follow it with a main course of tarantula.
What did they taste like you might wonder? Well, the snake was rather bland being that there is not much to a snake, it was just fried so it ended up being just a crunchy tortilla-like dish that had a lot to be desired. However, the tarantula seemed to be marinated before being grilled up here so it tasted a bit like soy sauce. The legs were crispy and probably the most delicious part but the body of the spider was rather disgusting. The thing about a tarantula is its taste can depend greatly on how full of an egg sack it has and the one I ate was full of eggs so it ended up tasting rather fishy and very unappealing.
It was an experience to say the least and when you are travelling you have to be open to trying new foods and experiences just like how you should be open to embracing and experiencing the culture and history of a place too. It’s all part of the experience and really makes memories that last a lifetime. I’ll definitely never forget this unique culinary experience!