A vendor selling deep-fried spiders poses with a spider as she waits for costumers at bus station at Skun, Kampong Cham province, east of Phnom Penh March 14 ,2009. It costs $2 for 10 deep-fried spiders, which come seasoned with garlic. The fist-sized arachnids are crunchy on the outside and taste like cold, gooey chicken on the inside.
Deep fried spider snacks have put Cambodia in the news again. First eaten by starving people out of desperation during the Cambodian civil war of the 1970s, fried spiders have become one of the most popular snack foods, a national delicacy and have caused quite a stir in the culinary world.
The small crossroad town of Skuon, about 50 miles north of the capitol Phnom Phenh, is the famous spider town of Cambodia to where bus loads of people from the capitol flock for the famed snack. "We even get a few Europeans - usually they think it's disgusting but then they try one and find it's delicious," says Cham, one of a myriad of local spider vendors busy along the main highway.
Sim Yong, a 40-year-old mother of five who supports her family selling fried spiders says, "When people fled into the jungle to get away from Pol Pot's troops, they found these spiders and had to eat them because they were so hungry. Then they discovered they were so delicious..." Seasoned with garlic and salt they are fried in butter until crispy on the outside but gooey on the inside and served piping hot.