Bird’s Nest Soup and Bee Larvae Snack are just two of many Fear Factor Foods emanating from Thailand which westerners may find not only a tad squeamish to the eye but also less than palatable to the taste too. However these and many other delicacies are consumed in varying quantities by locals on a daily basis. Some you will find are relatively inexpensive while others are hugely expensive.
There is a simply explanation as to why some people view these bizarre foods as a way of life. While some hypothesis are based purely on cultural upbringing and a great source of cheap protein, others see them as providing a number of health benefits. Some are even thought to contain powerful aphrodisiac ingredients. Perhaps it all boils down to just how willing we all are at pushing our boundaries.
Apparently these products are so nutritious that Chinese medical practitioners encourage people with all sorts of health aliments, to eat them. Now while I haven’t had the courage to try this myself, I do have a have a small jar of the beverage right in front of me. I have yet to open it, so I’m afraid I cannot tell you at this stage what the taste is like. It’s the fear in me that’s a factor.
While wandering around the streets of Bangkok you are bound to stumble upon many a street cart vendor selling an array of unfamiliar, unusual and unimaginable looking deep pan fried edible anything including an assortment of creepy crawling insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, scorpions and frogs that most of us will have come to recognize but would never ever think of actually eating.
However if you look closely enough at all the extraordinary Thai Street Food on offer, you will also spot many a squiggly slug too. One, or so I’m told, is a tasty if not ugly insect larvae known as a bamboo worm. I am also told that these little crispy critters are similar in taste and texture to that of puffed corn snacks.
So instead of perhaps snacking on a packet of crisps, why not try a packet of protein filled bamboo worms. Apparently these worms are far better for you than ordinary western type snacks as they packed with all sorts of nutritious goodies.
Though moths of this larvae once fed on flowering bamboo trees they are now raised on commercial farms and fed on the same diet including organic vegetables and grains. When the worms are mature enough many are quick frozen, shallow fried, flavoured, packaged and then sold in stores and some even online. I have been told that uncooked bamboo worms when eaten are mildly hallucinogenic.
Not everything has to taste like chicken as some would like us to believe. Isn’t it amazing that deep frying anything can make it palatable for human consumption.
Not far from Thailand is the Philippines where you can try a delicacy of a different kind called a Balut. It’s a Filipino dish pronounced bah-luht. For less than a dollar you can buy this baby duck fetus or if you prefer foetus. The tiny duckling hardly starts any form of life incubated in its egg until partially developed. This being little more than part of the beak, some pieces I don’t wish to describe and even a sprinkling of feathers. The egg is then boiled and spiced. Apart from being high in protein, they are also believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac. There is no doubt that this fear factor food would win hands down in any eye-candy department.
During the curing process and within the cheese itself, flies lay their eggs leaving behind thousands of white transparent maggots. They can either be scrapped out or eaten live with the cheese but be aware that these little critters are good at jumping and are known to hop as high as fifteen centimeters. It’s best to wear some sort of eye protection while wolfing down some of these live maggot larvae.
This may be a great treat for some dare devils but if not whole-heartily chewed properly, surely many maggots could survive in the acids of your stomach and then perhaps even start breeding in your intestines thus causing regurgitation of the worst possible kind. Or is it possible you can catch a serious case of diarrhea or both. These maggots have powerful mouth-hooks which can lacerate stomach linings or intestinal walls while attempting to bore through your internal organs.