Remember that ant that bit my lip the other day as I endeavored to swallow it and two of its friends? (If not, perhaps you should read my Thanksgiving post first.) I enacted a bit of revenge at a rural market this afternoon: I ate some ant larvae. They were mild and crunchy and generally unremarkable.
Before I continue, I should note that this post is in honor of CeCe’s godson Sam and his brother Ian, who reportedly love hearing about all the odd things on the Asian menu. When reached by phone last week, five year old Ian’s first question was “How’s the food?”
The aforementioned market was our final stop on a motorbike trip that involved feeding ten pounds of junk food to feral, sacred monkeys at the request of a Buddhist abbott. (That’s a whole ‘nother story.) The aunt eggs were wrapped in banana leaves in clutches weighing maybe 4 ounces. Each package sold for 1,000 Lao kip ($.12). I took a free sample and passed on a larger helping. Perhaps I was distracted by the filleted and grilled rats on offer by the adjacent vendor?
Further on down the row were dozens of frogs in several sizes, neatly skewered through their feet for your grilling pleasure as well as loads of land snails, some as big as your fist. While our companions Thipphako and Gail were shopping for dinner – their purchases included a plastic bag full of silver, three inch fish, scallions and one large papaya – I focused my attention on another invertebrate offering. No entomologist was on hand to ID the little creatures, but they were certainly insects, about the size of a dime, with antennae, six legs and wings, the whole nine yards. And they were fried. And pretty tasty. Crunchy of course, with citrusy overtones, and a certain je ne sais quoi. One packet cost 2,000 kip.
I’ll be honest though. I couldn’t finish more than half of them. Before giving them to Thipphako for her dinner later on, I performed a bit of an experiment. I offered some of the critters to 10 different Lao at the market, and 9 gladly helped themselves.