Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Tarantulas and Snake Whisky

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Tarantulas and Snake Whisky

Article excerpt

Byline: David Ellis

TARANTULAS, crickets and a swig of snake whisky are now on the menu for the culinary adventurous during eight-day Mekong River cruises between Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City and Cambodia's Siem Reap.

But daring as they may appear, such adelicaciesa are not actually part of the cuisine aboard the river ships AmaLotus and La Marguerite of Australia's APT Touring a they're there for the more-strong of heart and stomach during shore excursions led by Vietnamese and Cambodian guides.

Crickets, guests soon learn, are in fact a pretty staple local food item in the region because of their high protein content.

Attracted by battery-powered fluorescent lights at night among the rice fields, the unwary little fellas fly into plastic sheets and then drop into troughs of water where they're collected for frying in tasty sauces at local markets, the sauces over-riding any anaturala flavour that may exist inside the now-crispy carcasses.

And those brave enough to try, also find that stir-fried tarantulas taste and crunch much the same as those cricketsa[degrees] with the truly brave also being offered a live one in the hand or on their shirt a with the assurance that these fearsome-looking crawly critters have had their venom-carrying fangs removed.

And to prove just how safe and tasty they are, the guides are the first to eat a cooked one. Whole. And while some passengers may gingerly try the legs, with a few prepared to bite into the body, most opt instead for a photograph of those few game enough to bite into or to wear a tarantula.

Afterwards, to wash all this down, there's then a swig of that snake whisky, which is produced by infusing whole snakes, usually cobras, in rice whisky. It's good for virility, the guides assure APT's passengers, as well as rheumatism and arthritis.

The whisky comes from a small family-run village rice processing mill near a floating wholesalers' market where trading's not on shore, but from boat to boat. …

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