At first I was going to post something political in honor of Election Day, but I’ve reconsidered. Haven’t we already said enough? If I read one more piece of political posturing (including mine) on Facebook, I think my head might explode. It’s time to shut up and let the U.S. electorate decide.
So in a counterprogramming twist, I decided to post some pictures my friend Sam took on his smart phone two weeks ago of me posing on Silom Road in Bangkok with the new dark meat.
Bugs for sale. Whoever heard of such a thing? Until I came to Bangkok, I never had. In every country I’ve lived in (including Thailand) and most of the ones I’ve visited, people will pay to banish insects from their homes, but here in Thailand, they’ll also put out hard-earned cash for the honor of inviting them into their bodies.
Of course, I’d encountered questionable edibles long before my first arrival in Thailand, and I’m not just talking about the frog legs I tried as a child. (Although I remember kind of liking them, I’ll probably never dare to snack on amphibian meat again!) In college I nearly gagged watching a guy eat the worm — and chewing before swallowing! — at the bottom of a bottle of tequila. A few years later, I dined in a French restaurant in New York City’s Grammercy Park district with a guy who insisted on having escargot as an appetizer. I kissed him later anyway, but I’m pretty sure I would have bid him goodnight with a handshake only if he’d had grasshopper breath. Yuck!
My friend Dave once pointed out that eating insects is no worse than noshing on shrimp cocktail. After all, he insisted, they’re the cockroaches of the sea. For a while, every time I ate one, I thought about the winged cockroaches that sometimes fly into my nightmares, but as long as I never have to see jumbo prawns scurrying across dirty streets after dark, I’ll be okay eating them. Sam went even further, lumping all crustaceans together and tossing them into the box labeled “water bugs.” Since crustaceans live in water, I rationalized in response, they must be cleaner.
No matter how good insects might taste when they’re hot off the grill (and I hear grasshoppers are delicious), I don’t think I could psychologically handle eating them. I nearly gagged last summer when I tried crocodile meat in Pattaya. I can’t imagine what would happen if I attempted to devour something that terrifies be even more than deadly reptiles. Yes, I’m talking about cockroaches.
I’ll try anything twice, I like to say, but even I must impose some limits. When I leave Bangkok in exactly three weeks, I’m pretty sure I’ll wave goodbye without ever having experienced a Ping Pong Show and without swallowing a single six-legged creature… living or dead… by choice.
“Bugs” Bobbie Gentry