Close-up of fried tarantulas
Cambodia,  Food & drink,  Friday’s Foods of the World,  Travel galleries

Gallery: fancy a snack in Spider Town?

About an hour’s drive north of Phnom Penh lies the small market town of Skun. Normally a town like this would attract little attention from passing tourists, eager to reach the wonders of Angkor beyond. But Skun’s market has a treat in store; although that depends perhaps on your appetite for the unusual.

Market with colourful awnings
The market in Skun

For Skun is famous for just one thing, its deep-fried tarantulas! We saw these and other invertebrate delights for sale on just about every stall in the market. But although we had bravely sampled deep-fried crickets, silkworm cocoons and whole baby frogs in Phnom Penh, we drew the line at spiders!

According to Wikipedia:

‘The spiders are bred in holes in the ground in villages north of Skun, or foraged for in nearby forestland, and fried in oil. It is not clear how this practice started, but some have suggested that the population might have started eating spiders out of desperation during the years of Khmer Rouge rule, when food was in short supply.’

I noticed that many of the women selling the spiders had a penchant for floppy sunhats ornamented with flowers. They seemed fairly happy to be photographed, understanding perhaps from experience that we were unlikely to buy their more esoteric wares.

And had we been tempted to enjoy more crickets, there were plenty of them and other grubs for sale too. But we decided to pass on these too – once was enough!

So here is some more fascinating Food of the World which on this occasion we didn’t eat!

I visited Cambodia in 2020

19 Comments

  • Susanne Swanson

    Oh my! You should have seen my face scrunch up as I scrolled through your post! Yes, great pictures…. but I’ll have to pass on trying anything from the market of Skun! 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Haha yes, I seem to have made a few people squirm with this post! I wouldn’t be buying my lunch here either, but as a photo stop it was excellent 😀

  • CadyLuck Leedy

    I would have to be starving to give these a go……..I hope I am never in that situation……I wonder if they sell them all in a day? Do the Cambodians still eat them or is it a painful memory? O,r is it a way to bring in tourists? Thanks for joining in again this week! I will be traveling again and everything will be put on hold for a few weeks! Cady

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Me too! But I believe the locals do still eat them although I’m not sure whether I saw anyone actually doing so 😉 Enjoy your travels – I’m just a tad jealous! Although we do have a week away later this month (just in this country though of course)

  • Simone

    Fascinating! But not really making me drool to taste one 😉 I would give a pass as well, but looks like a cool stop to make on route!

  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    We would like to think we would give these spiders a go but who knows when actually faced with them? One thing for sure, you we definitely hear about it if we do try them when we get to visit Skun 😁

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Oh yes, you must definitely tell me if you ever get to try them! I should add though that we were advised against it, for hygiene reasons. Unlike the insect street food stall we went to in Phnom Penh, we were told that food from the stalls here (all of them, not just the spiders) could be a bit dodgy. I guess that gave me a good excuse not to try the spiders 😆

  • margaret21

    Funnily enough I think I could manage spiders more readily than silk worm grubs (I’ve smelt those … beyond vile) or frogs. But I’m not keen.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Interesting 😀 I’ve eaten frogs legs (dull, not enough meat to be worth the hassle) and tried the whole frogs in Phnom Penh (horrible, crunching on those bones 🤑) But the silk worm grubs are definitely marginally more edible imho than these things!!

  • Alison

    You’re probably right about it being starvation that brought this about, but still I can’t imagine eating a spider!

Do let me know what you think - I'd love to hear from you

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