Cultural Delicacies: Tarantula

When opportunity knocks, you have to take it. That’s what happened when I was standing in the shade of a bus stop on my way from Laos to Cambodia two years ago. Stretching my limbs, I looked over my shoulder, and a Khmer lady with a sun hat had a huge plate of what appeared to be big, black, fried spiders for sale to eat.

“What is that?” I asked the lady.

“Tarantula,” she said in nearly perfect English.

I had heard of Cambodian people eating insects like grasshoppers and ants before, but never had I encountered a delicacy like this one. Nor do I understand how the lady came across so many tarantulas (at least 100! do they raise them in cages?) and thought to kill and fry each and every one of them. Regardless, my “Survivor: Gross Foods” mode kicked into high gear, I purchased a fried spider and crunched it down.

Fried tarantula tastes just like a crispy potato chip. There’s nothing spidery about it. In fact, it’s not just a delicacy in Cambodia. According to Wikipedia, tribes deep in the Amazons of South America eat them too. I have seen a BBC program on the preparation of fried tarantula, and it appears they can be undercooked and you have to removed their teeth sometimes. Aside from this, though, eating fried tarantula is a harmless and unique cultural experience! I hope you have a chance in your lifetime to try it!