Fried Spiders - A Cambodian Specialty Snack
For many travelers, the first impression of a country's regional specialties lies in the street vendors who sell snacks in the cities. Today, we travel to Cambodia, where fried spiders are a delicacy. Sometimes rolled in sugar or garlic, the fried spiders are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
This popular snack was created out of necessity during ruling years of communist Khmer Rouge in the mid-to-late 1970s. After taking control, the Khmer Rouge forced the people of the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh out of their homes. They had to fend for themselves to survive, which included eating spiders. The spiders were plentiful, safe to eat, and easy to prepare. Spiders also provided much-needed nourishment with high protein, folic acid and zinc content.
Today in Skuon (also known as Spider Town) and other Cambodian cities, fried spiders are sold on street corners, sold for ten to twenty cents each. Some say the fried spiders have a texture similar to that of soft-shell crab. Their flavor is often described as a cross between chicken and cod.
Unfortunately, this crunchy snack is facing extinction. An article by Kris Janssen on DW.com states that, "Cashew and rubber plantations are fast replacing Cambodia's forests, which are also under threat from a massive illegal timber industry. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the county has lost 20 percent of its forest — which is where the tarantulas live." With the tarantula supply dwindling, many street vendors and lovers of the snack are concerned that one day the snack will become obsolete in Cambodia.