Flies, cockroaches, pickled bees and lunch! - Leon Logothetis

March 16, 2011

Flies, cockroaches, pickled bees and lunch!

Legal disclaimer: If you are prone to squeamishness I suggest putting down your chai  tea latte and raspberry muffin! This is going to get ugly!

Fried cockroaches in Laos.

Although I have an adventurous spirit my wanderlust seems to abandon me when it comes to what I put in my mouth! I am not the type of traveler who revels in eating fried cockroaches on the streets of Thailand, pickled bees in Mongolia or the crispy locusts on offer in Vietnam. I am way too boring for that! There is something about my fear of getting violently sick that has kept me from venturing too far from the staples of western food. But read on and you will soon see that even the most intricate ‘self preservation eating techniques’ don’t pan out too well when you travel off the beaten path…

I found my way into an Urt (a traditional Mongolian tent) in the middle of the Gobi desert and it was here that I was given an innocuous looking cup of fresh camel milk. Sounds good so far. It won’t for long! There were 4 flies in my milk. 3 dead. 1 dying.  It would have been exceedingly rude to refuse my host’s gift of fresh camel milk, so I took a sip! On the best of days I don’t suggest drinking camel milk. I certainly don’t suggest drinking camel milk infused with Mongolian flies…

On another occasion whilst traveling through India I had the misfortune of eating ‘Rice ‘ala’ ant.’ Yes, my rice dish was infested with dead ants. A whole family of ants massacred and placed in my food… Now I know what you are thinking: How the hell did the chef miss this? (If you had seen the state of the kitchen, and the state of the ‘chef,’ you would understand) It goes without saying that I did not finish my meal. In fact I didn’t even start it.

The funny thing about this story was that the restaurant was the only one in the village and I stayed in that village for one week! Each night I was forced to go back, in order to ‘sustain life,’ and my friends ‘the ants’ were waiting for me in my food. Sometimes alive. Sometimes dead. By day three I was forced to eat. And yes, I probably inadvertently ate some ants… To this day every time I get a rice dish I rummage around for signs of life.

But wait, there is more, and it gets worse! I was on a container ship traveling through the Panama Canal on my way to Puerto Bolivar in Ecuador and the Captain insisted I eat at his table. This was good. Or so I thought. The salad that he brought out had two cockroaches in it. One dead. One very much alive. I decided against eating that night. In fact I feigned illness and went to my room. For the rest of the trip!

I learned valuable lessons after my close encounters with the flies, the cockroaches and the ants. If you want to stay safe, go to McDonald’s. If you want to have an adventure, travel the world and you may get to eat some flies, but at least you will have a story to tell…

Leon Logothetis

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