All over the world, various insects are seen as a delicacy. Believe it or not, eating bugs is considered the norm, as opposed to an exception like we might think. Grasshoppers, worms, and other grubs are common snacks to eat in many places, but what about spiders? Do any cultures eat spiders? And what do these eight legged creatures taste like?
What do spiders taste like? In Cambodia, where fried spiders are considered a delicacy, people that eat the ah pieng tarantula compare the taste of these spiders to fried prawns and say that they even have a similar crunch. Sometimes, these spiders will be pickled in wine, and some people prefer to eat them this way. Pickled spiders are especially popular with pregnant women.
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Where in the world do people eat spiders?
In Cambodia, people especially enjoy eating a type of tarantula called “ah pieng.” These spiders are prepared by being deep-fried with salt and garlic and are eaten much like a crab. They pull off the spider’s legs and suck off the flesh. People also eat the head and the body of the spider but they will avoid the abdomen, which is full of a bitter slush that contains the spider’s organs, as well as any eggs, and even poop.
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How are these spiders caught?
Ah pieng tarantulas are gathered by the locals. The tarantulas live in underground burrows and locals will poke a stick into their burrows. They then wait until the spider attacks the stick and they pull the spider out clinging to the stick. Before the hunters do anything else, they make sure that they remove their fangs because the bite from a tarantula can cause extreme pain and fever. Then they keep the spider alive so that it stays fresh until it is ready to cook.
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How long have people in Cambodia been eating spiders?
There are two beliefs on how long people have been enjoying the delicacy of fried spiders. Some people believe that it is a relatively recent occurrence. They believe that during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia (1975-1979), people were starving so they began to eat tarantulas and other creatures they were able to gather from the forest. Other people believe that it has been long-standing practice and that people just continue to eat them because they are so delicious.
Do we actually eat spiders while we sleep?
The “fact” that people eat 8 spiders a year in their sleep is just a myth. Spiders that live in homes (there are about three or four species of spiders that live in houses in North America) will tend to stay in nonhuman infested areas of the house. Spiders will hunt and spin their webs in an area away from people.
Spiders will not intentionally crawl into a bed with a human because there is nothing for them to hunt there. Additionally, spiders may be afraid of sleeping people. This is because spiders rely heavily on vibrations to warn them of danger. And a sleeping person will give off vibrations from breathing, their heartbeat, and even snoring, which would act as a signal for the spider to stay away. If someone swallows a spider in their sleep, it would be a completely random occurrence.
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What other bugs do people eat?
There are various bugs that are commonly eaten all over the world because they have great nutritional value. Crickets are probably some of the most popular bugs that people consume. This is because crickets are a great source of iron, protein, and some vitamins like B12. Crickets can be ground up into a powder and then they can be added into a protein shake or even flour for extra nutrients.
Like crickets, grasshoppers are also very popular. They are popular all over the world, but especially in Mexico, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. They are so popular in Uganda that it is more expensive to buy grasshoppers than beef!
Beetles are also very popular because they are rich in protein as well as various nutrients and minerals. Beetles can be roasted or used in recipes and sometimes cochineal beetles are used to make
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Here are some other popular insects that people eat and their nutritional benefits:
- Ants – High in protein and they also have a sweetish taste
- Bees – High in amino acids and vitamin B and they can also be used as a source of sugar
- Caterpillars – Great source of protein, especially during the rainy season
- Mealworms – High in fatty acids, protein, copper, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc and selenium
- Termites – High in protein, fatty acids, iron, and calcium
With this being said, it is not a good idea to just snack on any bugs that you happen to find. It is important to make sure that insects are properly prepared.