Grub Fest

Red Magazine - - News - WORDS SIPPACHAI KUNNUWONG AND DEL­PHINE THOUVENOT/AFP PHO­TOG­RA­PHY LIL­LIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP

At a hip Bangkok diner, food­ies with an ad­ven­tur­ous palate tuck into a bug-based menu that in­cludes a water­melon salad sprin­kled with bam­boo worms, na­chos with silk­worm cherry tomato salsa, and pasta made from ground crick­ets.

Abun­dant and stacked with pro­tein, in­sects have long been a fa­vorite snack among Thai farm­ers. But they have of­ten car­ried a neg­a­tive im­age, per­ceived as “food for the poor” in a coun­try with pro­found class di­vides.

Now, bugs are creep­ing onto the menu of some of Bangkok’s high-end restau­rants as the cap­i­tal’s gour­mands leap on the lat­est global food trend with a sus­tain­able agenda.

Ratta Bus­sako­rn­nun, a 27-year-old who works in the cos­met­ics in­dus­try, ad­mit­ted she was ini­tially skep­ti­cal. She sat for a meal re­cently at In­sects in the Back­yard, which of­fers Bangkok’s first in­sect-themed fine-din­ing menu.

Many wealth­ier Thais, she said, think of in­sects as “un­ap­pe­tiz­ing and dirty.” But by the end of her meal she was won over.

“I just ate scal­lops topped with bam­boo worms and a fish fil­let with an ant egg sauce. It was de­li­cious,” she beamed, a gen­tle jazz track play­ing over­head in the dimly lit restau­rant. “The food is well-pre­sented,” she added. “This gives an im­pres­sion of so­phis­ti­ca­tion.”

The restau­rant is lo­cated in Chang Chui, an artsy dis­trict in west­ern Bangkok filled with vinyl record stores and lo­cal fash­ion de­sign­ers. Feed the world Co-founder Re­gan Suzuki Pairo­jma­hakij says in­sects are more than just a gas­tro­nomic trend—they are a po­ten­tial panacea for an in­creas­ingly crowded and meat-hun­gry world.

The Cana­dian na­tional used to work in the NGO sec­tor with re­mote ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, many of whom in­cor­po­rated in­sects into their cui­sine.

Fried bam­boo cater­pil­lars on a water­melon salad

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