Eating fried insects in Bangkok appears on the priority list of most daring travelers, something you should try at least once and take a photo so you can proudly exhibit it once back home.
A bag of crisps has a lot in common with a serving of fried insects. They are both tasty, greasy, cheap and are great with beer, but fried insects definitely have an edge over crisps, both in terms of nutritious value and the exotic element. You won’t just find one type, but an entire ramp of species glistening under the bright-neon lights of a hawker’s push-cart, from finger food like bamboo worms and crickets to the ominous-looking scorpions and what seems to be like an entire colony of ants: the queen, her second-in-command and all the workers as well.
Every evening, Vinai follows the same route, starting off at Khao San Road and ending up in nearby Banglamphu, eventually going home after midnight when the entire cart is sold out. A small crowd of tourists gathering around Vinai’s cart is a common sight, some just taking photographs while many buy a bag full of mixed species out of curiosity.
Not for the Fainted Heart
So, you say, which ones should I try? The answer depends very much on how far you are willing to go. Most of these insects look repulsive enough to turn most people off, leaving only the brave, daring and very hungry. For beginners, the most ‘friendly’ insects are probably the bamboo worms, more commonly known as ‘rod duan’ or express train. Despite how crunchy they look, rod duan are rather mushy, soft and nutty, similar to the silk larvae. Crickets are a bit crunchy with a salty note, while grasshoppers have a bit of everything – sweet, salty, nutty – plus, they are crispy at every bite.
If you are ready for the wildly exotic, go for a mouthful of ant queens, which are served all wrapped up in a betel leaf to counter the sour hint. Scorpions are the ultimate when it comes to rare exotic food, so let’s just say you should try them for yourself.