Post # 3 The Rule

June 6, 2012 at 8:43 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In my About Me page, I mentioned The Rule.  The Rule evolved over time, from many inputs.  Simply put The Rule says:  If hundreds of people are eating something and enjoying it, I should try it because it won’t kill me.  The Rule has led me to “discover” some wonderful things that I’d avoided.

However, it’s also lead me to eat things that I’d rather not have put in my mouth.  I’ve eaten slices of meat that came from an animal I still can’t identify.  I’ve eaten parts of various snakes.  I’ve eaten more reptiles than I care to count.  I’ve had kangaroo, ostrich, and fish that looked like it came from another planet.

I’ve eaten fungus of just about every kind.

I’ve eaten spices that were so good they were almost a religious experience.  I’ve eaten chiles that were so hot they cleared my sinuses, made me cry, numbed my tongue, but made me go back for more.  I’ve eaten communal meals and not worried about communicable diseases.  I’ve eaten condiments set on a table from open jars.  I’ve eaten vegetables that were preserved in solutions so sour my mouth didn’t unpucker for days.  I’ve had things so salted they were stiff as a board and white as snow.  I’ve eaten cheese that looked like it was dead, but tasted like it came from paradise.

I’ve also had fish so fresh and grilled so perfectly that it melted in my mouth and today, twelve years later, I can still remember clearly every mouthful.  I’ve had bread so succulent that a loaf was enough for a meal.  I’ve had meats so tender and delicious it would make you cry.

I’ve eaten bugs.  Lots of them.  More than I care to think about.  I’ve been on weekend survival skills adventures where we were taught how to sizzle grubs on hot rocks and pop them in our mouths (see recipe on right).  Very tasty.  No wonder fish love them.  There are places where bugs are cooked on hot plates on the sidewalk and people get small dishes for a few pennies as they walk by.  They eat them like popcorn (pic 1).  I’ve also eaten deep fried crickets.  For reals.

I was working in Laos for a few weeks, and several members of the local staff I was training invited me on a floating picnic.  They took me to a boat launch/restaurant where they ordered our lunch.  Shortly after we embarked, we sat at a table set as though it were in a fine restaurant.  We slowly chugged up the river while the chefs prepared our lunch.  Very soon, the appetizers were brought out.  One was a plate of marinated vegetables.  The other was deep fried crickets (pic 2).

I knew I wasn’t going to eat those bugs.  There was absolutely no way it was going to happen.  But there was a young boy sitting near me who couldn’t wait to dig into them and politeness dictated that I be served first.  The sense of expectation was high, and it was easy to see that they were very proud to offer me the first choice.  I looked at that plate and finally chose one.

The woman sitting next to me whispered, “You don’t really need to eat that.  We know you don’t serve these in America.”  I remembered the grubs, and snakes, and lizards, and spiders that I’d eaten in the past, and The Rule reared its ugly head.

“It’s okay,” I replied.  “I’ll try one.”  Steeling myself to NOT think about what I was doing, I popped it into my mouth and bit down.  It tasted a lot like beef liver, but much more crunchy.  I chewed a couple of times and swallowed, again not thinking about it.  Until I tried to talk and realized there were cricket legs caught between my teeth.  I removed them as politely as I could, noticing that several others were doing the same thing.  I took a slug from my water bottle and chatted with the folks around me.

Then there was a gentle nudge at my arm.  The young boy was silently offering me the last two crickets with a delighted smile on his face.  I defy anyone to say no to a little kid who believes they are offering you a treasure.  I took one with a smile and gave him the other.  We both chomped and chewed at the same time.  The didn’t get better as they cooled.

And I didn’t die.  And it tasted okay.  And I never would have done it if not for The Rule.  And if I hadn’t eaten them, I would have missed something truly unique.

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