The Things We Eat (Again), In Chiang Rai, Thailand

Woman Frying Bugs

In Chiang Rai it’s not enough to claim that you sell the freshest food in town you need to prove it!

Grass hoppers, beetles, cockroaches…

In the night market food stalls sell an assortment of things, usually fried, usually recognizable, consisting of things we know—and ordinarily consider food.

Shrimp, for example. Now who amongst us doesn’t enjoy a crispy deep friend piece of that tasty crustaceans, which if examined closely do sometimes resemble things that you’ve caught scurrying across your hard wood floors. I’ve been known to eat dozens of these bad boys and still maintain my Red Elvis figure (really).

Food glorious food! Yes, would that hungry lad named Oliver Twist turn down a nicely fried cockroach, or spider if faced with the choice of going hungry. Not on you’re life Charles “I get paid by the word, so I write so damn much’ Dickens.

Ms. Red claims they taste like French fries, which makes perfect sense considering they are fried in palm oil and heavily SALTED. Dipped in ketchup and placed in a little red carton we could really have something here. Selling them as a healthy alternative to say ‘popcorn.’ I’m starting to see dollar signs flash before my tired eyes.

Now I’ve seen assorted insects for sale, but not once have I seen them freshly prepared in front of you—taken form a box (a large black insect trap, really) and fried and salted before your eyes. Not just one but several stands set up along the Sunday night market in Chiang Rai City, from make shift egg carton nests, to frying pan, to plastic bag—lightly salted, take them on the run for that 7pm show, and away you go, quick as a bunny!

They’re OK, a bit like eating the shell of a shrimp but not at all objectionable, having eating some very strange things and lived to talk about it…Broad Beans, my big brain thinks as I chew and swallow, yes a simple broad bean fried in oil and eaten in the back of a taxi while heading home from a late night of drinking and silliness in Bangkok…

I’ll take my chances on the insects, rather then the 5 Baht sushi rolls (is that fresh salmon?) that the other woman is selling from a plastic box.

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