When I moved to Cambodia two years ago one of the first snacks I was introduced to was like something out of my worst nightmares. I was once on my way to a field trip with work and when we stopped for a break a lady with a basket full of fried tarantulas on her head started making her way towards me. At first I wasn’t sure what she was carrying, but when she got closer I nearly freaked out. When she asked me if I wanted some tarantulas for breakfast I nearly passed out. I usually eat everything from grubs in the Amazon to guinea pig in Ecuador, but eating tarantula in Cambodia was not going to happen as I am petrified of spiders. The bigger and hairier they are, the worse my fear becomes. It is completely irrational, I know, but even just touching a dead tarantula scares the hell out of me.

So when I met the lovely Dalene and Pete from Hecktic Travels aย few weeks ago in Phnom Penh and Pete asked me if there was any unusual food in Cambodia, I told him about the fried tarantulas. He looked skeptical and intrigued in equal measure and I don’t know what I was thinking when I suggested that if he ate a tarantula I would do the same but that’s exactly what I said. I blame the beer and as soon as I said it I regretted it. But as I am a woman of my word we met a week later atย Romdeng restaurant in Phnom Penh, which is the only place in Phnom Penh where you can get this ‘delicacy’.

spider 7

It looks so innocent on the menu…

Romdeng restaurant is also a social enterprise which trains street children so I tried to convince myself that I was eating spiders for a good cause. I was a bit nervous to be completely honest and when the waiter bought a plate of three fried tarantulas over I may have squealed a little. I had never been so close to tarantulas in my life before and now they were right in front of me. They were quite big and to my horror I discovered that they still had hairs on their body too.

spider2

spider 5Of course Pete had no problem eating the damn thing at all. He pulled a leg out, put it in his mouth and swallowed it without even flinching. So then it was my turn. I needed to do this in baby steps though, so I tried to touch the spider with my fingertip first. There may have been a bit of squealing again when I touched it. So the next step was to hold it but I was ever so slightly freaking out at that stage, so Pete suggested to hold a leg first. When he passed it to me and I grabbed it, fear overcame me so I screamed like a little girl and dropped it. You can see the hilarious video that Dalene took of the incident here.

So after the initial shock and a huge sip of beer I gave it another try. I grabbed the leg again, determined to not drop it and actually eat it. I dunked it in the pepper and lime sauce that came with it for ages but then I thought to myself that I was being really silly and locals eat tarantula in Cambodia all the time, so I pulled myself together and ate a leg, closely followed by a massive gulp of beer. To my huge surprise it wasn’t actually that bad. It tasted a bit like burned chicken (surprise, surprise!).

spider 2

I ate four legs in total and after a while I even managed to hold the whole spider. This is by far the weirdest and scariest food I have ever eaten, but my work colleagues said to me now that I have eaten a tarantula I am finally a real Khmer…

spider 3

spider 4

Pete and I ‘enjoying’ the unusual snack

So now I want to know from you guys and gals, would you eat a tarantula? What is the weirdest food that you have ever eaten?

 

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

49 Thoughts on “The day I ate a tarantula

  1. Oh, SOOOOO gross!!!! You’re very brave. I wouldn’t have even been able to have it on the table!!!!
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted…Visiting Krabi in the Wet SeasonMy Profile

  2. i know i already commented on your insta pic, but i’d just like to officially, on the record, say:

    no. no no no no NO no no.

    when i was at romdeng and the adorable kid came around the corner and thrust the LIVE tarantula in my face and asked me if i’d like him and his friends deep fried for an appetizer, well. no. NO.
    the lazy travelers recently posted…no travel required: #frifotosMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 20, 2013 at 10:32 am said:

      Oh my god, I would have freaked out if they had bought a life tarantula to our table. Not sure I could handle those. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Wow…well done. We wandered the Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing last year and I lost my appetite seeing all the crazy stuff (grubs, monster centipedes, spiders, sheep penises!!). Yikes!
    Emily recently posted…Niagara-on-the-LakeMy Profile

  4. I had to scroll past these pics very, very quickly. I couldn’t have done it, Tammy. Absolutely not! Kudos to you for overcoming your fear!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted…Drifting Past 365 Isletas on Lake NicaraguaMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 20, 2013 at 10:35 am said:

      I had the same feelings as you before this. Confrontational therapy really does work wonders though. However I am far off touching life tarantulas. Maybe next time! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Nicely done! I’d probably go for it, but with a lot of squealing like you, haha. I can usually convince myself to eat weird, scary foods because if the locals are doing it, I know that my fears are all in my head. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, though!
    Jessica recently posted…Inside Super Typhoon Haiyan: Part 1My Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 20, 2013 at 10:36 am said:

      That’s why I eventually tried one Jess. I mean if you think about it squid or prawns are pretty disgusting to look at too, but I wouldn’t even think twice about eating them.

  6. Aren’t you glad that when we met for lunch no spiders were involved?!? ๐Ÿ™‚

    I knew about Cambodia’s love of tarantula before we arrived but I admit I had no interest in trying one. So far, I have actually made it through Asia without (knowingly) having eaten bugs or insects of any kind. I’m generally up for anything, but I just can’t imagine that this is something that I would actually enjoy. I mean, I don’t want to eat something with hair still on it!

    I’ve eaten plenty of stuff that is probably weirder though: pangolin in the Philippines is at the top of the list, though the thing that made me most uncomfortable was recently here in Nepal when we were offered some buffalo that had been specially prepared for a festival. What the people didn’t tell us until we had eaten a morsel, however, was that we were ingesting buffalo brain! I have a huge phobia of eating nervous system so that was a nasty surprise!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Tasting Heaven at the Gurdwara Sahib MelakaMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm said:

      Yikes, I don’t think I could eat brain. I was once not told that I was eating pig’s intestines. Only found out the next day. It was horrible chewy stuff.

  7. Oh my. I encounter tarantulas daily, but I prefer that they’re on the receiving end of my machete and not on my plate ๐Ÿ™‚
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted…Organization Addicts Unite (GIVEAWAY…WOOHOO!)My Profile

  8. Eeeeeek! Good for you. That is seriously amazing. It’s one of my goals to become a more adventurous eater. While I’m not picky at all, I rarely find myself chasing after those unusual foods. Way to stick by your word! Perhaps I’ll channel this as my inspiration next time it’s my turn to taste something… different..
    Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted…Wildlife In Costa Rica | A Coffee N Jungle Night HikeMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 21, 2013 at 3:20 pm said:

      I know what you mean-if it is good enough for the locals then it should be good enough for us too! Well if you ever come to Cambodia you know where you can get tarantulas now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Serious kudos to you for doing that. I don’t know if I could. Maybe just a leg if I was trying to impress someone! At least I now know they don’t taste too bad!! And you look so calm once you’ve taken the plunge ๐Ÿ™‚
    Arianwen recently posted…How to Stay Safe While BackpackingMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 23, 2013 at 3:52 pm said:

      Ha ha, thanks! I only had the legs too. The belly would have been disgusting I think. Pete ate it though. Once the initial shock was over, I was feeling much less nervous touching them actually.

  10. Jeepers Tammy, you’re one brave cookie!
    Charli | Wanderlusters recently posted…Discovering The Real Night SkyMy Profile

  11. We also tried one of these tarantulas when in Siem Reap last year. We really enjoyed it – so crispy and well-spiced :). It was yummy with some fresh banana and mango juice :).
    Agness recently posted…Do You Have $20 In Your Pocket? Awesome, We Are Taking You To Istanbul!My Profile

  12. Haha – couldn’t resist a dare, huh? I’ve never tried a tarantula but I imagine it’d be a little like soft-shelled crab…
    Andrea recently posted…Houston Hotels: Royal SonestaMy Profile

  13. Omg I have a crazy fear of spiders so just looking at those pics makes me feel uneasy haha. You’re SO brave!! I think I’d rather wrestle a wild boar before someone can make me eat one of those haha
    Michelle recently posted…The Taste and Smell of ChinaMy Profile

  14. That looks absolutely disgusting… But I’d try it!

    I hate spiders, but my need to try anything and not succumb to my own fears and doubts would trump that… I think ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Are the bodies squishy? I mean… What are they like on the inside? O.O
    BakoymaTravels recently posted…Where to go?My Profile

  15. Wow. That’s exotic food right there. Though I can try that, so long as it’s not poisonous.
    Ken Atodahl recently posted…Learn MoreMy Profile

  16. Not a fear easily to overcome. In Singapore, we ate tortoises and frogs :-p
    Paulo Tan-Travel Bugs recently posted…Visit Singapore on a Cheap Budget (Part 1)My Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on April 13, 2014 at 8:48 am said:

      It was’t easy at all, but I am glad I did it. I have never trued tortoise or frogs, although you can get them in Cambodia too. Next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Bravo for trying it.

    I thought it tasted more like charcoal grilled lobster tail, but not a bad eat at all. My blog of the weirdest foods I’ve eaten…. Includes tarantula, and ends with balut.

    JR

    http://paxview.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/strange-food/
    JR_justJR recently posted…Bumpy RideMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on April 20, 2014 at 8:28 pm said:

      It does taste very charcoal-ey, I agree. I could never eat Balut. My Cambodian colleagues offered it to me once, but when I saw the feathers and the beaker I nearly threw up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good on you for trying it though.

  18. Thanks for understanding the articles on your site that is useful for researching for me.

  19. What a menu! I bought one of those crispy tarantulas from a street market too – tried the legs but couldn’t bring myself to bite the abdomen – you’re one brave soul! The hairy legs taste like bread floss to me haha.
    Andrew Darwitan recently posted…A Steamy Turkish Bath ExperienceMy Profile

  20. Oh I’ve tried crickets and maggots, but not tarantulas.

    Maybe I should go back and try it ๐Ÿ™‚

    And with what I read in your beautiful blog, I think I can do it. LOL!
    JONtotheworld recently posted…Eating Bugs In Cambodia With VideoMy Profile

  21. You did much better than I could do! I did manage to get down a cricket in Bangkok and that was a scene. Adam would eat one no problem, guys are so different!
    Hannah @Getting Stamped recently posted…Is Street Food Safe? โ€“ A Guide to Survive Street FoodMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on March 19, 2015 at 1:48 pm said:

      Ha ha, Chris is actually a vegetarian, so he would have freaked out if he had seen me eating it I think.

  22. YUMMY! I’d try it for sure, when in Rome!
    Adam @StreetFoodWorldTour recently posted…Unwrapped: White Rose Hoi An, VietnamMy Profile

  23. You defiantly earned a food badge of honor for getting it down. Makes me all itchy and creeped out thinking about eating one.
    Carrie @Jetwayz recently posted…Top National Parks in AfricaMy Profile

  24. Just returned from Cambodia / Phnom Penh . The Trip included a visit at Romdeng including the tasty crispy Spider meal. I would anytime eat it again. Found with the lime juice it was quite nice to eat.

    • Tammyonthemove on February 22, 2016 at 3:54 am said:

      Ha ha, glad you liked it. I didn’t mind the taste either. I just wasn’t too sure about the hairs still being on the legs. ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Post Navigation