Giant Water Bugs As Food And Flavoring

I enjoy growing edible plants and reading about food about as much as I like cooking it and eating. Food plant origins and history, recipes from various cultures — it’s all grist for my mental mill.

This morning as the sun rose I was reading about a very peculiar Southeast Asian food flavoring. It’s a pheromone-laden secretion derived from certain glands in a giant water-bug, a monster insect which has flight muscles large enough to carve out as chunks of meat. The flavoring agent from that three-inch bug is known in Vietnam as cà cuống. The substance is used to flavor the family of Vietnamese soups known as pho.

So there must be people in Southeast Asia who are insect butchers! This fascinates me, as I come from a culture which values structures and traditions a couple of hundred years old, while in Europe and Asia “old” traditions tend to be more like thousands of years old.

A Wikipedia article about the Asian giant water bug:

Lethocerus indicus


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