Friday, September 5, 2008

Eating Lethocerus Indicus

A perusal of this blog provides ample evidence that culinary sqeamishness isn't one of my weaknesses. I've gobbled many a six-legged creature here in Thailand, to impress, shock, satisfy a dare, or possibly to fill my stomach. The usual mode of preparation is to fry the critters. The (presumably) gooey innards are lost in the process, so you wind up with a clear plastic bag full of crunchy exoskeletons. The vendor has a spray bottle of soy sauce on his cart.

The giant Thai waterbug is different. The males, at least, don't meet their destinies in hot oil. Instead, their reservoirs of pheromones are removed. The pheromone is then used in various sauces. I've tried these sauces.

It's difficult for me to see the appeal. Nail polish remover, ethyl acetate, is the closest comparison I can make. Others claim that the notes of gorgonzola cheese offer similarities (olfactory perception is sooooo subjective). The prime scent components of gorgonzola, however, do not include hexenyl acetate, the waterbug's love juice. You may not be repulsed at the odor of nail polish remover, but you don't mix it in your hollandaise sauce either. Some Thais might claim that essence of waterbug is a taste that only true gourmands can appreciate. For me, however, the real gastronomical delights on this planet are all united in one characteristic: complexity. But pheromones are, by nature, simple, a single chemical that interacts with a single receptor on your amour's antennae.

Thais call the waterbug "mangda". This is not to be confused with horseshoe crabs, whose eggs truly are a delicacy, which also go by the name "mangda". The Thai word for "pimp" is also "mangda" seems that male horseshoe crabs are lazy creatures that often get around by hitching a ride on the backs of females.

I'd post my own photos of the waterbug, but the following, awesome video by an honest-to-goodness zoologist is all you really need.

How many times in history has a Thai waterbug found itself on a $2 bill?

1 comment:

speakfreely said...

The nasally fitted pupa is a nice touch.