My first culinary encounter with khai mot daeng (red ant eggs) was during site visit two years ago, when I woke up to the sight of my co-worker Ying emptying a plate of red ants and their offspring into a frying pan, then topping off an egg omelette (chicken eggs, this time) with the spiced-and-salted insects. "Ruu-duu ma-muang (mango season)," Ying exclaims to me, indicating that these ant eggs are a seasonal treat that she has prepared specifically for her farang (foreigner) guest.
At the kitchen table, I remember Ying's five-year-old daughter Neung eagerly scooping up the ant eggs with balls of sticky rice, while Ying's mother laughs at me from across the table, revealing a red ant stuck between her teeth. I nervously smiled at Ying's family before quickly dipping my sticky rice into the pile of ant eggs and throwing it into my mouth. Once I overcame the fact that I was consuming insects found in the average American school's sandbox, I gave in to the lemon-like taste from the red ants' diet of mango leaves and the creamy texture of the ant eggs. Before I knew it, I was elbow-to-elbow with Neung as we gobbled up the khai mot daeng as fast as we could, abandoning our sticky rice for spoons in order to enjoy the insects in all their citrus-and-creamy glory.
|A pile of red ants and eggs, fresh from my host mother's mango tree|
|You can run, but you can't hide from my host mother's frying pan...|
|Last weekend's dinner: mashed red ant eggs tossed in a pan |
with soybean oil, salt, and crushed chilis *yum*