Could you eat a tarantula?

Tarantulas have 8 legs and taste like chicken. In Cambodia, these arachnids are considered a local delicacy. Fancy a bite?

Photo: Omar Havana
Photo: Omar Havana

When did people start eating tarantula? People have actually been eating spiders in Cambodia for hundreds of years. In particular, during the oppressive rule of the Khmer Rouge, food was in very short supply and the locals had to turn to nature to get their fix for the evening. Tarantulas in these parts are edible, as long as they are cooked beforehand.

Who eats them and where? All across south east Asia, tarantulas are eaten as local delicacies, but nowhere more so than in Cambodia, which is where I got to see these crispy arachnids on sale myself. Thailand and Vietnam also happily put tarantula on the menu, but in Cambodia I found that the locals want us – the tourists – to try these deep fried spiders (known locally as “a-ping”) as a kind of coming of age ceremony. I’d rather not, thanks!

So what exactly do they taste of? Well, you will NEVER catch me eating any kind of spider, but I am reliably informed that tarantulas do indeed taste of chicken. Doesn’t everything taste of chicken, though? Maybe that is the most bland ‘regular’ tasting meat that people can associate as they describe the sensation of eating spiders and other bugs. The sensation also gives a contrast in texture from a crispy exterior to a soft centre. The legs contain little flesh, while the head and body have a delicate white meat inside. The abdomen, however, contains a brown paste consisting of organs, excrement, and possibly even eggs! Still hungry?

tarantula6

How are they caught and cooked? Tarantulas are bred in holes in the ground around villages in Cambodia, although some are caught from the nearby jungle, too. For cooking, the spiders are tossed in a mixture of MSG, sugar, and salt; crushed garlic is fried in oil until fragrant, then the spiders are added and fried alongside the garlic until the legs are almost completely stiff, by which time the contents of the abdomen are not so runny. Dinner is served!

I have travelled around Asia quite a bit over the past 3 years but I have never summoned the courage – or stupidity – to eat a deep fried tarantula – or any other kind of bug for that matter (not that I can remember, anyway).

Could you eat a tarantula? What did it taste like to you? Let me know in the comments section.

The featured image in this article is courtesy of Quidipity.com.

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7 thoughts on “Could you eat a tarantula?

  1. Haha, no no no. Well, technically I only eat fish so I’ll play my pescatarian card and say that I don’t eat insects. 😉 I know people who have eaten tarantula and they’ve said it’s chewy, but not terrible.

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