Phnom Penh has its problems, what with people trying to steal your phone and tuk-tuk drivers constantly bothering you, but they do got really great Cambodian street food, and a lot of it is rather weird.
In my mind Vietnam has the best street food in the world, but Cambodia has the most interesting street food in the world.
It was whilst strolling about near the riverside that I found myself at a backstreet hawker, mostly selling bugs. Now I have done the whole bug thing, I was not into it (at all), but I was extremely glad that I tried it at least. Two things though had so far escaped my wondering eye, namely spider/tarantula and snake. Said hawker just so happened to have both.
Eating tarantula in Cambodia?
Before embarking on either of these dishes, fear fell square upon me, which meant that I immediately purchased a Cambodia beer to wash away the expectedly bad taste. I was actually very pleasantly surprised! The body of the tarantula tastes a bit like flavoroed crisps, or chips, a little salty and crispy. But when you bite into the middle the juices of the tarantula seep out into your mouth, and it its really good. Rather like the juices you get from eating balut, the flavour is savory, good and simply just not comparable to anything else. Does tarantula taste good? It really does, and I would certainly eat it again.
The snake was wrapped around the wooden stick perfectly, with there being no misunderstanding on what you were buying. It came with a hot sauce you simply put onto the meat.
I’d actually been excited about the snake, but well it simply tasted like chicken, really bony chicken. This meant me standing around in the street biting the small morsels of meat I could grasp from the dead snake, whist spitting bones into a plastic bag.
Not a bad taste, but too much hard work to eat and at $1.50 not something I need to ever try again.
1 hit, 1 miss, tarantula and snake, two more Cambodian street food knocked off my done list in Cambodia.