09 May 2007

Two types of cricket

For dinner last night, I ate two distinct species of cricket. M had brought them home for dinner from the market.It must be insect season at the moment because D and A both had mashed insect for lunch yesterday at their respective work places. One type of cricket was rather large. Probably the size of a small- medium sized prawn. They were deep fried with lime leaves. I didn't think they really have much of a flavour of their own, just a crunch. They tended to pick up some lime flavour. It's like eating an entire prawn with all it's shell but with less meat. The exoskeleton does taste similar to prawns. After dinner I had a closer inspection before I threw them in the compost. They didn't smell too good. M said that's what her insect lab smells like. The key was just to stick the whole thing in my mouth. Once it was in my mouth I didn't seem to care what it was which is quite unlike what happens when I eat other odd things like snails.

The smaller crickets weren't as nice as the big ones. They were deep fried with lime leaves and dried shrimps. They were too dry for my liking and they tended to get stuck in the throat. Also, they disintegrate easily and we were left with a pile of legs, heads and bodies. We had a look through these when we'd finished eating too. We found several stink bugs in the mix, which M picked out and ate because she much prefers them to crickets. We spotted a mini cockroach which D promptly put in his mouth and swallowed- brave man!

Thousand year old eggs, or preserved eggs turn up in a lot of salads here. I've eaten them in Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong before and have experienced them at home on the rare occasion. The egg is wrapped in lime and wood for up to 4 months and the white becomes brown and transparent. The egg yolk becomes a very odd grey- blue colour and is creamy in texture. It don't think there are any other foods I've eaten that come near that colour apart from blue bubblegum ice cream. I wouldn't generally eat these eggs at home, but because they're there, and no one else is a fan, I eat them here. I had heard they were traditionally made using horse urine, but information on Wikipedia says this is a myth but did suggest they could be made of toxic lead.

Another thing I eat here that I don't eat at home is pigs blood jelly. It is left to coagulate in a tray and then cut into cubes so it resembles cubes of meat. If you eat kao phiat, noodles with pork, they will usually add some. The small bits are easy for me to eat, but the larger chunks are more confronting. There was a vegetarian in our group who was horrified when she got these in her noodles after asking for no meat. I always assumed Buddhist cultures understood vegetarianism because some Buddhists are vegetarian, but I don't think any Buddhists here are vegetarian. Interestingly, here they rewrote Buddhist texts to be consistent with Marxist ideals. This means I don't think they're allowed to import Buddhist texts from Thailand.

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