“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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Christmas in Cambodia

This Christmas, Santa was a missing presence.  They actually don’t celebrate the same holidays you do in the rest of the world.  Chosen moments from our Christmas Day include: bikes, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, Christmas lights by the water, Angkor Wat, dusty roads, frog, hungry kids, missing my mom, packs of wild dogs and monkeys, margarita’s and the trashiest drag queens you’ve ever seen.  Ever.  Jolly St. Nick failed to make an appearance.  Nevertheless, the Christmas spirit still found a way inside me.  I can’t seem to get our visit to the Lighthouse Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia out of my head.  I all too quickly found place in my heart for many pairs of tiny brown eyes.  What is the real answer to helping all these children without homes?  B. and I made the choice not to give money to children who are begging.  Instead we offer to buy them a meal or share some of the fresh fruit we have with us.  I’m actually really sick of seeing hungry kids.  A certain detachment has set in for my own protection but what bothers me most, is the lack of security these kids feel at such a young age. Kind hearted, old little souls who won’t score some food or a drink without sharing first with friends and siblings. (The little boy in B.’s blog about Angkor Wat was the one exception to this rule.)  The children at Lighthouse were affectionate and eager to take your hand, show you how to play a game, or speak to you in the various languages they knew.  I wish adoption was popular.  I wish there was more balance in the world.  Why do some have so much while so many survive on hardly anything?   Everybody deserves a roof over their head and a full belly.  No frills necessarily, just the essentials.  Satisfying the most basic needs, because it is exactly these needs that make us all human beings.

F.