“Bizarre Foods” 2, B & F Style!

So you think your stomach can handle it?  Welcome to “Bizarre Foods” Part Deux.  We have covered much ground since the last installment and have been fortunate or unfortunate enough to have our taste buds soak in some new creepy crawlies and other goodies from the road in South East Asia.  Some have been a pleasant surprise, while others…well…

Let’s dig in!!

We bought a handful of crickets from a street vendor passing through a restaurant we were eating at in Phnom Penh.  We were the only foreigners in the place and he went to every table but ours.  As he was walking out we flagged him down and he seemed genuinely stunned that we were interested. When we told him we wanted half a bag full his smile was from ear to ear.  Unfortunately after chomping down on a couple of his deep fried treats the aftertaste of wet grass began to float back up and the smile wasn’t returned. If they would have been crispier they may have been better, two was definitely enough. We also ate deep fried duck foetus at a street stall in Phnom Penh. If it wasn’t fried it may have been tough to swallow, but let’s be honest, anything battered and deep fried tastes good. We had them several times. For New Year’s Eve in Siem Reap we splurged on a dinner that seemingly was especially prepared for our “Bizarre Foods” blog. We romantically dined on ostrich, snake, kangaroo, and crocodile. Each one with its own distinct taste. Each one better than the other. Each one excellent. Highly recommended! We ate water buffalo sausage in Luang Prabang, Laos. I was excited for this one, but it all came crashing down like a giant cow paddy on a dusty road as soon as I tasted it in my mouth. I can’t describe it (or maybe I just did) but my taste buds rejected it immediately. Disgusting. We ate bamboo worms in Chiang Mai, Thailand and to be honest they had the same texture as cheese puffs but without all the salt and cheese. We ate the whole bagful. In Bangkok after a few beers we tackled the fear inducing water beetle. Two inches long and about an inch wide of sheer taste bud terror. They tore the legs off just before eating, stating that the barbs get stuck in your throat. We hesitantly ate them at the same time, they went down, but even with all of the beer we didn’t particularly like them.  We bought grasshoppers that same night about an inch long a piece. They were very crunchy, seasoned with salt and pepper. It seems when it comes to insects, the crispier the better. They were great. Last but not least, in Cambodia at a rest stop along the side of the highway F. brought two freshly fried tarantulas back onto the bus. The locals got a kick out of the fact that we were willing to give them a try as we giggled and cringed at the sight of them. We were both a little freaked out by the long legs and its bulbous body, but once we popped them into our mouths, to our surprise they were amazing. As the bus started pulling out, I had silently wished F. had bought more. Sadly we never saw them for sale anywhere else on our travels in Cambodia. Yummy.

Part three?  Stay tuned.

Bon appetit!

B.

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The Twilight Zone

If you happen to be desperately searching for the armpit of the world, look no further than Vang Vieng, Laos. After spending about half an hour in this retched place, we found ourselves wondering if we had entered the “Twilight Zone”. I was embarrassed to be a white tourist in Vang Vieng. The Lao people come across as gentle, calm, happy and modest. Now put that against a backdrop of half-naked white tourists who spend the day writing profanity all over each other’s bodies with marker, tubing, drinking Lao whiskey and doing drugs that are much more readily available here than they are back home. If this doesn’t paint a frightening enough scenario there’s more. Most of the restaurants have big screen t.v.’s where they repetitively play episodes of “South Park”, “Family Guy”, and “Friends”! Around the clock fucking “Friends”! I knew we were in a strange place when on our first night there, a little boy who couldn’t have been older than seven ran up to me and grabbed my ass. Two words, Vang Vieng. In all seriousness this place is what one could call a natural disaster.  Last year just under twenty five tourists died uselessly in tubing and drug related accidents. Two have already died in 2012, literally dying to have a good time. We couldn’t even begin to count the amount of people walking around with injuries while we were there.  Terribly sick thinking I was on my deathbed is how I spent most of our pleasant visit. I was plagued by the idea that everything was going to come to an end in this god awful place. Luckily my time had not come and I lived to climb happily onto a bus as I breathed a sigh of relief.

Embarrassed to be a part of the human race. I was filled to the brim with this sensation once more recently, during the alms giving ceremony in Luang Prabang, Laos. It is a sacred ceremony meant to be done in silence while the monks walk through the streets in a meditative state, collecting sticky rice for their one meal of the day. Flash to 2012 when everything becomes an opportunity to make some mullah. B. and I watched totally bewildered as tourist bus after tourist bus showed up and turned a lovely, peaceful ceremony into a paparazzi worthy photo op. Some insensitive tourists got right in the monk’s faces with their cameras. It was loud and disgraceful. B. and I left feeling filthy; we had witnessed the worst possible repercussions of a modern world. Nothing seems to be sacred anymore.

F.