Thursday, September 24, 2009

From crunchy cockroaches to pink crayons, half-dead monkeys and more

Jill takes the dare

I knew my students at Flagler College were wonderful and intelligent. I didn't know that one of them was so brave and daring.
Then, during a News & Feature Reporting class this week, James asked me to Google the name of the classmate sitting next to him.
That led to a YouTube video featuring Jill Houser munching on a giant cockroach in Thailand.
"It tasted like salty dog food," she's quoted as saying.
She told the class she chomped on the bug on a dare.
The grossest part about the experience?
"The guts," she said.
Then we went around the room and students talked about the most unusual thing they'd ever eaten.

One student said she once ate crayons. And when they came out on the other end, you guessed it - colors.

Source of photo: Android Spirit

I tried to think if I could top crayons or cockroaches. I remembered eating ant eggs, fried worms and iguana in Mexico City. All that seemed fairly exotic at the time, but I don't think it compares to wolfing down a cockroach.

I've had piranha while traveling with several others through the eastern jungles of Ecuador. We used steel wire to catch the fish because they chewed right through nylon fishing line.
Piranha are full of tiny bones, but if you slice them thin and fry the meat then the bones dissolve and the fish is easier to eat.
I went on a monkey hunt with this Quechua Indian. He shot and injured the animal, but then ran out of shotgun shells and couldn't put the monkey out of its misery.
Instead, the hunter chased down the animal and tied it up with vines. Then he put the monkey on his back so he could carry it to his village. The monkey wasn't dead.
The animal's blood dripped on the hunter's legs as he walked. I could hear the monkey breathing. But after several hours, the breathing stopped.
Once back at the village, the hunter gave the monkey to his wife. She cut it up and boiled it in a big pot. Somewhere I have a photo of the monkey head in the pot. With the hair gone, it looks human.
It tasted like a cross between chicken and beef.
It doesn't seem right to eat turtle eggs, but I tried them, too. They taste kind of like chicken eggs, but they seemed denser and heavier.
I've had armadillo. Poor little guys. I hate seeing them dead on the roadside.
I had chicha de yuca - or cassava - while visiting the Shuar Indians in Ecuador. Yuca is a root. Shuar women cut it up and then boil it until it's soft. Then they chew it and spit it into a pot. The liquid - chunks and all - ferments. I remember reading that the saliva aids in the fermentation process. The men drinking it above had just returned from a hunt.
Yet another delicacy in Ecuador is the guinea pig, known as cuy. I've eaten the little critters, too.

According to
To be treated to a cuy feast is considered quite an honor in Ecuador culture. Cuy is often reserved for special occasions like christenings and marriages.
But somehow, I don't think even the furry cuy can top the gigantic cockroach that Jill found in Thailand. Chomping on that was quite a daring feat.

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