SIEM REAP: MORE THAN JUST TEMPLES
Siem Reap, literally meaning the defeat of Siam (now called Thailand), is the capital city of Siem Reap province in the northwest side of Cambodia. It is the most touristic city in Cambodia, thanks to Angkor Archaeological Park, housing most beautiful ancient temples, from Angkor Wat, Bayon until Ta Phrom, where Angelina Jolie did her Tomb Raider movie.
However, Siem Reap is not just about old temples. At night, the city center comes to live, especially on Pub Street since there are discotheques, bars and pubs on street – as it is called. But, there are also many restaurants and cafes serving traditional Khmer, Thai, Vietnamese, western food, as well as street food, including insects.
Suppose you have been to Thailand, China or Vietnam, then you know that insects are popular street food in touristic areas. So is Cambodia.
SNACKING INSECTS: HOW DO THEY TASTE?
Usually, the insects are meant for snacking. They are deep fried and served in skewers to make them easier to eat on the go. The most common ones you will find are tarantula, scorpion, snake, cocoon and cockroach, sold for $1 each. For a real foodie who loves challenges, these experience should not be missed. Nonetheless, what if you’ve got the curiosity but got no guts to try them because of their unappealing “look” that make you lost an appetite?
FYI, all these insects are previously marinated and fried before serving. It helps them to get decent taste like any other common meat you eat.
What if I give you some cheat sheet on how they taste according to my sense of taste as the first step to leave your comfort zone? Perhaps, once hater, you’ll become a lover.
Tarantula is a much bigger version of a spider. The 8-legged long and hairy legs may disgust you, but here’s what I found out. The meat is soft and flossy like beef floss and has a savory taste. In fact, this is my favorite of all insects I tried!
Scorpion has a bit chewy shell, if not hard, although after being deep fried. The meat is savory, too, but not as flossy as tarantula.
Snake meat tastes like chicken, no specific odor and smell, but slightly chewy. Just imagine that you eat fried chicken skewers with a shape like a rope.
Cocoon has a soft jelly-ish texture and taste fishy, that reminds me of fish eggs. This is not really my cup of tea, but certain friends I know love it.
The only thing I haven’t tried is the fried cockroach skewers. Have you?
RULES OF PHOTOGRAPHY
A stall with insects on trays grabs attention very quickly, especially for pictures. Please note that there are certain rules on taking pictures of these peculiar food. If you take a picture of the stall from the distance, a closer look of the stall with trays of fried insects with or without the vendor, that’s fine. In other words, it’s free.
However, suppose being more viral on social media or posting instagrammable picture is your priority, like holding the tarantula skewer or (pretending to) eat the scorpion skewer for instance, you need to buy the product first. Holding 1 product in your hand means $1. Posing with 4 products means $4. As simple as that.
On Pub Street, I found 2 stalls selling the insect snacks like the ones I captured, but the rules remain the same. I even think that both are probably from the same owner.
NO HASSLE FOR CURRENCY EXCHANGE
Last but not least, although Cambodian Riel (KHR) is the local currency, the US Dollar is so widely used in nearly all transactions, from paying hotel bills until a $0.50 beer in pubs. So, for those who have US Dollars, there’s no need for currency exchange in KHR. FYI, 1 USD = 4.063 KHR.
So, are you ready to fly to Siem Reap and snacking some insects?