Bangkok's "other" Food
There's a bug in my soup.
I've come to love the food here in Bangkok. Since landing on the hot and sticky tarmac of Suvarnabhumi Airport I have tried an abundance of Thai food. I have now experienced the quaint street stalls that sell noodle soups, meats on a stick and delicious khanom buang to the higher-end restaurants that sell mostly all types of popular Thai dishes.
I could literally eat out everyday, try something new and I'd be guaranteed to love it!
If you are a foodie, you will love Bangkok food. If you are not part of the lucky many that have experienced it.
I am always scouting to try something new. I try my best to stay away from foods that I am familiar with. I have made a pact with myself to stay away from McDonalds and the like, and enjoy the far superior cooking powers of Thailand.
This has led me to finally try out Bangkok's "other" food. Some might find it off-putting, some revolting and others are totally fine by it.
I am of course talking about insects.
My thoughts on Entomophagy
Entomophagy, the eating of insects has been a popular debating topic, insects are not eaten in western countries due to the stigma that they are disease ridden and the idea of it is just a rotten one.
This I believe is fast becoming a dated opinion on the subject. Insects are eaten by approximately 2 billion people. For these people, insects provide the nutrition and supplements that are needed. With the population of the world increasing, the idea that we should all be eating insects should become a very real one.
With the livestock option we use an incredible amount of space to hold them. We use an astronomical amount of energy and food to supply them compared to the insects. Crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein.
Entomophagy, according to a UN Food and Agriculture report, should be promoted for reasons such as:
Health; Insects are a healthy, nutritious alternative to mainstream staples such as chicken, pork, beef and even fish. Many insects are rich in protein and good fats and high in calcium, iron and zinc.
Environmental; Insects emit considerably fewer greenhouse gases than most livestock.
Insect farming is not necessarily a land-based activity and does not require landclearing to expand production. Feed is the major requirement for land.
The ammonia emissions associated with insect rearing are also far lower than those linked to conventional livestock, such as pigs.
Insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein (crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle, four times less feed than sheep, and half as much feed as pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein).
Insects can be fed on organic waste streams.
Economic and Social factors; Insect harvesting/rearing is a low-tech, low-capital investment option that offers entry even to the poorest sections of society, such as women and the landless.
Mini-livestock offer livelihood opportunities for both urban and rural people.
Insect rearing can be low-tech or very sophisticated, depending on the level of investment.
Here in Bangkok, insects are eaten as a form of snack. The insects are deep fried and put simply into bag and the contents then receiving a few squirts of Soy Sauce and a dash of pepper. It is pretty much what you see is what you get. Trying insects this way is pretty much the root of inspiration of what you could do with the insects. I thought insects were pretty bland in a way. Lacking flavours. Next time some onion and garlic will be added to give a bit more flavour.
On the internet there are countless recipes that you could do with these creatures. The majority non-intimidating.
One problem that surfaces is the legislation to sell insects to the public. For instance, Spain deeming retailers of edible insect foods to be illegal. Banning them on public health legislation.
Similar things are seen in the UK, where there are talks about whether flours and ingredients containing insects should be allowed on sale. Again for public health reasons. This is one thing western countries will need to change. The idea that insects carry disease, microbes and death are a over-reaction. The idea of eating insects is a far better scenario than eating laboratory made beef patties.
It would take a long time for western countries to get used to the idea of eating insects, despite knowing that they're eaten elsewhere in the world. But it is odd that many westerners get delight in eating certain arthropods that come out of the sea such as lobster, shrimp or crab but are disgusted by the idea of eating any arthropods that come out of the sky or crawl across the land.