I’ve always wanted to eat grasshoppers. As a child I used to catch them and let them go after my jar was full, but as I grew older I learned that these strange bugs were also snacks for some people in the world.
My first week in Bangkok I was able to eat four different types of insects and/or bugs. The bugs I ate were purchased from a transient vendor whose cart was parked in front of my mother-in-law’s driveway gate. The cost varied by the amount of insects you ordered, but usually about a cup of bugs were about 20 Baht. The first bug I tried was what I believe to be a cricket. Thai people call it a Manga-see-on. It was fried and flavored with some sort of spray and light powder, as were all the other bugs. To eat it properly the legs were ripped from the body, along with another sharp part, and put to the side of the plate or in a tissue. This was my favorite bug to eat. The texture and flavor went well with the Leo beer, and it just appealed to me compared to the others. The second bug was called a Ting-lee. I have no idea what it would be in America, but it was smaller than a cricket and somewhat oval shaped. The Tug-tow appeared to be in the beetle family and I only tried one of them. It was just a bit gross to me in appearance and took too much time to peel and eat. The texture was not pleasant either. The last one I tried was a grasshopper, or what Thai people call a Tuck-uhh-tan. Like the Manga-see-on, it’s best to tear the legs and sharp parts off first. The vendor said it wasn’t necessary for the smaller ones, but I pulled them anyway.
As my time passed I saw other bugs in the cart, which I did not try: scorpions, grubs, and other insects that I could not name, nor really cared to.
I was amazed at the different types of people who ordered bugs. I saw kids purchase them and watched as their faces lit up as their snack was placed in its plastic bag. I saw beautiful Thai women in mini-skirts ordering these snacks on several occasions. I saw the elderly grabbing grubs. It seemed it didn’t matter your age, gender, beauty, or income, these snacks were popular and desired.
My wife said they are more popular in the northeast part of the country, but I saw no lack of appreciation for them in the big city of Bangkok.