When it comes to learning about a new culture, I'm a big believer that food is a major part of the learning process. How, when, and what people eat can give you a lot of insight into not only their diet, but also their culture and beliefs.
But, I won't lie — some food traditions are just weird.
You've probably heard that bugs show up on the menu in many countries. As snacks, usually, but sometimes as regional delicacies, too.
Cambodia is one of the countries where you'll find bugs for sale at many markets. Not just any kind of bugs, though.
Cambodia's bug specialty is big, juicy, fried SPIDERS.
Now, I'm not really afraid of spiders. I mean, I don't particularly LIKE them with their too-many legs and their sinister way of scuttling across floors and up walls. But I usually don't scream when I'm around them.
But EATING a fried tarantula? I wasn't sure I could do it.
During my tour of Cambodia with Intrepid Travel, we had a planned stop in a town called Skuon in between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The town is known for its touristy highway market where kids ply you with bags of fruit and other snacks — including bugs.
The village, often referred to as “Spiderville,” is a top spot to try Cambodia's delicacy of fried spiders.
The day before (when I let a live tarantula climb up my arm at a restaurant), I was fully prepared to at least nibble on a leg in Spiderville. They were crunchy, people had said. I could handle crunchy.
But a sleepless night spent hugging the toilet in my hotel room with a bout of mild food poisoning changed my plans. The thought of eating ANYthing that morning — let alone a crunchy spider leg — sent my stomach churning.
And so, I could do nothing but commend my fellow adventurous travelers and politely decline the snacks offered to me over and over by a persistent Cambodian girl with a live spider tucked into her shirt.
In this food battle, the food won.
I'll eat you next time, spiders. Next time…
What do you think? Would YOU try a spider?
*Note: I visited Spiderville as part of a complimentary tour of Vietnam and Cambodia with Intrepid Travel. As always, though, all opinions are my own.
If you're interested in the Cambodia portion of this same trip, check it out here.