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Tarantulas Stretch the Definition of "Dinner" in Cambodia



by Nichol Nelson

Photo: Santo Chino, Flickr

The "bizarre food" craze shows no signs of abating. Spurred on by television personalities and tell-all books, intrepid eaters continue to search the globe for the strangest -- and most off-putting -- edibles they can get their hands on. Which explains the skyrocketing popularity of the latest extreme tourist activity in Cambodia: hunting and eating tarantulas.

The hairy spiders are considered a delicacy in Kampong Cham Town and Sukon, and locals have begun offering visitors the chance to capture their own. The hunting party visits forests and cashew plantations to find the spiders, catching the nocturnal creatures while they're sleeping by poking sticks into their holes.

And then, cue the dinner bell. Deep frying the spiders is a popular technique -- they're served with salt and garlic. Prefer a drink? No worries. You can get your tarantula mixed into a rice wine and jack fruit cocktail.
Locals began eating the spiders in the 1970s, when residents were forced into the jungle during the Khmer Rouge's regime. Years of eating spiders and other bugs for survival gave the area's population a taste for them. Many Cambodians also believe tarantulas can treat medical problems, everything from backaches to breathing problems.

Want to bag your own tarantula? You'll need to be persistent. The tours aren't advertised, so befriending a local is a must. And it goes without saying that those with arachnophobia need not apply.

Note: Although this may be a delicasy to some and a main staple in the Cambodian diet, its not for some, and absolutly not for me! I love my little 8 legged furry pets!

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Exotic EDIBLES - Educator bitten by culinary bug Wednesday


THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH Courtney Hergesheimer Dispatch

Mark Berman, a central Ohio entomologist, asks students at Hilliard Darby High School how many bugs they think they accidentally eat.

He's a curious cross between a mad scientist and an exotic chef, a hybrid of the forage-to-live mentality of Survivor and the cringe-worthy cuisine of Fear Factor.

OK, there's more to the 49-year-old than that: He's a trained educator who takes live insects to classrooms, festivals and corporate parties to calm fears and dispel myths. (You needn't worry about swallowing spiders in your sleep or getting bitten by a tarantula.)

He just happens to cook with them, too -- fried zucchini-and-mealworm pancakes, Gorgonzola-Dijon salad with caramelized grubs, crickets encased in sticky brittle.

"I have an unusual business," Berman said. "But who's crazier: the first person who ate a cow or the first person who ate a grasshopper?"

He speaks quickly and zealously, having heard all the jokes.

Yet the work, he said, isn't about cruelty or intentional nausea: Respect and environmental awareness are crucial.

A recent demonstration for students in a "Global Gourmet" class at Hilliard Darby High School emphasized such points.

Other nations, he said, consider bugs acceptable forms of sustenance and often delicacies -- as with barbecued grasshoppers in Mexico and scorpion soup in China.

As for the nutritional value: Crickets are low-calorie, caterpillars are high in protein, and termites are carbohydrate-free.

In addition, insects often lurk unknown in foods that people frequently eat -- from pizza sauce to fruit.

(The black flecks in applesauce? Probably bug remnants, Berman said.)

Gross, the students said.

Click here to read the entire article

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Spider Control - Worlds Deadliest Spider


In the US we have our share feared spiders, the Brown Recluse, the Hodo Spider and the Black Widow, all with venom that packs a serious punch, each requiring medical attention. These 3 can be aggressive but like most arachnids really do not want any thing to do with you unless your prey.

So what Spider as been dubbed the Deadliest? Well this Spider is native to South America Amazon and seems to like stowing away in banannas being shipped throughout the world. This spider is called The Brazillian Wandering Spider. What makes this arachnid deadly is that, as the name implies, it wanders the jungle floor at night to hunt and during the day they hide inside termite mounds, under fallen logs and rocks, and in banana plants and bromeliads. This Spider is known to hide in dark and moist places in or near human dwellings. When hunting this spider has been know to attack first and ask questions later, completely unprovoked.

The bite from the Brazillian Wandering Spider can be fatal to bothwandering spider children and animals, in any event both would require immediate medical attention and antivenom. A bit to an adult can cause severe problems and as well should seek medical attention immediatly.

This Spider has been spotted and captured in bunches of bananas, from the US, to the UK and even Denmark. Each one has been captured by produce clerks and even grocery store managers and have been turned over to professionals who study arachnids.

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