by Tracey Kayne and Meg Hamilton
Our adventures in Siem Reap ended today as we embarked on our trek back to Phnom Penh. Along our six hour bus ride, the bus driver announced that the bus was going to pull over for a 30 minute break. We were greeted by rows of street carts that have piles of roasted crickets and as you continued to walk along each stand had larger and larger crickets. We stood there in disbelief. We learned quickly that roasted crickets are a delicacy in Cambodia. Cambodians began eating crickets during the Khmer Rouge regime out of desperation. During this time up to 2 million Cambodians died, many as a result of starvation (www.camboguide.com).
Despite the dark inception of this culinary trend crickets are an extremely popular snack in Cambodia still. Clearly, we immediately began daring each other to see who would give it a try. We looked around our group, urging “C’mon- just try it!” and being completely unwilling to do it ourselves. Personally, I was in the “not a chance in hell” corner.
Then, Katie H. chirped up, “I’ll do it!” We didn’t believe her until she reached her hand into the pile of crickets carefully selecting her cricket snack. The woman behind the cart began laughing quietly and continued to do so through the whole ordeal.
Katie examined the cricket, turning it over in her fingers. She raised it to her lips and… CRUNCH! The cricket’s hind legs and thorax disappeared down her throat.
She nodded nonchalantly and said, “Yep. Tastes like cricket,” and handed the remainder to Sue. Sue didn’t even hesitate and quickly took a bite of the cricket. “Now I can say I ate a cricket.”
The woman at the stand seemed to be enjoying this so much she wouldn’t even accept our payment for our cricket experiment. She was entertained by watching our disbelief and chuckled to herself at the sight of this.
We told Katie and Sue that since they had tackled crickets now they were ready to upgrade. Check out what’s next on the menu:
Well, that was certainly one bit of cultural learning we won’t forget. Tomorrow we go to Transitions’ Shine School! We will meet Athena Pond, one of the founders of Transitions, and begin to get oriented to the organization and the work we will be doing with them. Much, much more to come!