Everywhere around Cambodia you can find crickets cooked in various forms to be enjoyed by both Cambodians and visitors who are open to trying this common food. I have yet to try it, but it’s my goal to try a fried cricket before I leave the country and do it sober.
Crickets became part of Cambodians’ diet during the famine years of the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s. People ate crickets in order to survive.
Every time I see crickets, I think of passages in Luong Ung’s book First They Killed my Father, of when her mother would find crickets and other bugs to feed her when she was just a young girl because the family had very little food to eat under Khmer Rouge. Even with crickets, families had to be very secretive about eating anything more than what the soldiers would ration out. People could get beaten or killed for getting caught taking extra food.
But now, crickets are a lucrative business and sellers can make a good profit. One seller from Thun Mong village, Soun Sang, said he can make a decent profit from crickets. “If the crickets come, I can make a really good profit. Some nights I collect up to 30 kilograms,” the father-of-two says.
Everywhere around Cambodia you can see cricket traps (see photo below). The light source attracts the crickets at night and when they jump, they hit the plastic and fall into the water.
Some of my friends had a bug party last week and had bags of crickets. I wasn’t there, but I heard they were feasting off of the bugs. I still need to build up some courage to try the cricket and I know it’s all in my head because people say it’s not that bad.
In the meantime, I’m sticking with friend noodles, coconuts and rice.