Translation:Very tasty... spider!

Very tasty... spider!  (2014) 
by Viktor Pinchuk, translated from Russian by Wikisource

What just did not have to eat when traveling to the corners of the planet! But it didn't work out to taste fried tarantulas during stay in Cambodia: learned about the existence of a piquant "delicacy" after returning from a trip. Well, it's not a big loss, but I had the happiness to taste other, no less peculiar dishes of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Oceania, and will tell about them. I apologize in advance to overly impressionable readers.

Malaysia: the aroma of rotten eggs Edit

For those who have decided to continue virtual acquaintance with overseas food, I will start from afar, more precisely, with dessert.

Imagine a giant "chestnut" in a greenish peel with dense pyramid-shaped spines. In the countries of Southeast Asia, durian is called the king of fruits. The excellent taste qualities of the fruit with a strong smell of rotten eggs were appreciated by both locals and visiting foreigners, including the author of the article.

Of course, this is not the main food of Malaysians, Indonesians and residents of neighboring countries. "What do they eat in their daily diet?"— you ask. The usual food of the inhabitants of this region is rice, a local substitute for wheat and rye bread, although bread is also sold, but only in supermarkets. Something else is supposed to be added to the rice side dish, which is invariable for all eaters - usually vegetables or meat.

China and Laos: poor frog Edit

  Walking along the Vientiane embankment, I looked at my watch: it's time to have a snack. My gaze fell on a street stall where a woman was offering local cuisine products to everyone. The variety was impressive. Pieces of meat and liver strung on a small skewer cost several times cheaper than a kebab of whole frogs, savagely fried alive on coals, so the choice was not made in favor of the latter. I will add, both before this event and after, I have repeatedly met traders of live swamp goods in the markets of the country. In China, it is the same.

Cambodia: a gourmet paradise Edit


The first acquaintance with fried grasshoppers and giant cockroaches took place in the city of Kampong Thom. Having finished the meal with a portion of the first, I set my sights on the second delicacy. But it was not there: it turned out that one cockroach costs $ 0.5. I foresee a smile from a non-squeamish reader who reached these lines: "I went into the kitchen, caught, fried and ... no problems with payment." I must disappoint you: in this mysterious country they eat a special kind of cockroaches that have nothing in common with the German cockroach living in our kitchens, nor with their large Asian relatives living in nature. Having forked out 50 cents (in local equivalent), I chose a "fatter" copy and broke the shell… An aborigine standing next to him instructively intervened: "They are eaten whole..." I was skeptical of the advice and, chewing, so to speak, the cockroach meat, remembered that the day before I had bought three kilograms of mango at the local bazaar for the same price.


In Phnom Penh, capital of country, I met another dish that looked strange in the understanding of a European, to say the least. The area far from the city center, where I had the honor to stay, was not full of street eateries. Having hardly found a point of local fast food, I began to look at the samples in the window. A large dish caught the eye, on which, frozen in a death grimace, two dog heads fried in oil were lying. The smiling saleswoman, catching my eye, offered to taste the food in question with a gesture. "Thank you. Not now," he answered her in Russian out of surprise and, taking a picture, continued his search.

Thailand: continuation of nightmares Edit

One morning, waking up in the thickets of the island of Borneo, I pulled out from under my pillow... a live scorpion. It would never have occurred to me that a few months later I would find myself in a neighboring country where someone could use this abomination as food.

A lot of backpackers from different countries stop on Khaosan Street, nothing will surprise anyone here. A vendor with a tray full of fried scorpions holds a sign with the cost of... shooting an unusual dish. Probably there are more people who want to take a photo of a delicacy than those who are hungry to taste it.

Zambia: a creeping dish Edit

Three years have passed since returning from my last expedition to Africa, but I still keep a couple of dried caterpillars. The rest was distributed to friends: for tasting.  

A large tree caterpillar lives on a mopane tree and feeds on its foliage. At the same time, it serves as food for residents of Zambia and some neighboring countries. They eat on these "worms", harvesting "harvest" twice a year. The author of the narrative personally witnessed the preparation of a dinner of caterpillars. Only the outer shell is edible — the skin of the caterpillar, the green insides are poisonous: they are squeezed into a special vat to later prepare soup for enemies. Then the caterpillars are boiled in salt water, after which they are dried in the sun. It turns out something like dried mushrooms (in our equivalent). The product prepared in this way can be stored for months and years. It can be consumed in dried form, added to soup, or nshima snack. Speaking of the latter. Nshima is a kind of unleavened porridge made from corn flour. The national dish of Zambians people.

Japan: insects are not eaten here Edit

I will finish the article on a positive note. Perhaps the land of the rising sun also has its own oddities, but I was there for only two weeks, so I will describe Japanese cuisine superficially. Dango — balls of rice flour. By themselves, they are bland. A special charm is given to the balls by a kind of sauce. Strung on a wooden skewer, dangos look attractive in a styrofoam package, despite the low, by local standards, price.

Sushi is sold in all supermarkets, but the price for them is by no means low, as for all goods in this country. At such prices, it is the Japanese who should catch kitchen cockroaches for frying. I'm kidding, of course. By the way, sushi is cheaper in Thailand.

I am sure there are many peculiar and unusual dishes in the world, some of which can sometimes frighten a European. I have described in this article only those that I saw and managed to taste myself.

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