Eating spiders in Cambodia
Not so long ago some friends and I were in Cambodia. There are many things to do in this strange, perennially neglected country. We climbed all over centuries-old ruins, rode in Tuk Tuks, visited temples, and spent an evening in a rural village falling asleep to the pumping bass from a Cambodian wedding reception (despite the extreme poverty of the country, this is not a joke).
There was also the chance to enjoy some of the local cuisine. Cambodian cuisine is advertised as a “unique experience” but the reality is that as the country between Thailand and Vietnam, its food is essentially a fusion of those two, and any suggestion to the contrary is merely heinous lies. I ate fire ants, frog legs, duck eggs (this would be a duck embryo, in the egg), and my personal favourite, tarantulas.
Tarantaluas. What an animal. Big, black, hairy, and filled with a delicious goo that once upon a time was their functioning insides, they are arguably one of the most surprisingly enjoyable items I have ever consumed.
In the Cambodian capital of Phnomh Penh, there is a restaurant called Romdeng, operated by Friends International. It is operated as a charity, enabling the training of Cambodian chefs and waiters, and serving exceptional cuisine at low prices (for decadent foreigners).
You can order the Tarantulas there in servings of three. My group ordered two servings, for six tarantulas, and I was the only one who actually consumed them in our large-ish group. I wolfed them down with ease, dipping them in the delightful sauce that was provided. Everyone else seemed squeamish as I bit and ate and licked my lips, but I just kept going. Even now I don’t know why I then dipped into yet-another curry when I could have upped the number of Tarantulas consumed. Why stop at six? Why not nine? Or 12? They’re almost as easy to eat and addictive as a big bag of potato chips.
So. Next time you’re meandering through south east Asia, and for some reason have found yourself in Phnom Penh, stop by at Romdeng, and enjoy some spiders. You won’t regret it, and your friends will stand amazed at your bravery in eating such a disgusting, hairy, seemingly indigestible animal.