“Close your eyes, give me your hand, darlin’…”
That’s the tune our Vietnamese motorcycle driver sang to me right before I ate a cricket.
If you read our post about our Easy Rider tour of Da Lat (or follow me on social media), you’ll know I ate a cricket. “But why was this such a significant event for you?”, I hear you wondering. Well, honestly, I’m a huge scaredy-cat about a lot of things, and definitely about food, so this was a big deal for me.
When we saw the bin of crickets during our tour, and our guide explained that people eat them for a cheap source of nutrients, I thought to myself – there’s no way I’d ever ingest one of those willingly. At the end of our tour, we sat at a table and a woman plunked down a plate of freshly fried crickets, along with some chili sauce.
My stomach churned. I couldn’t even look at the plate. Our guides dug right in. “It’s good,” they promised us, “try it!”. Pete picked up a toothpick and went for it. I watched his face the entire time, inspecting it for any hint of disgust. After he crunched for a few seconds, he said, “It’s actually pretty good – tastes like a potato chip!”
Everyone expectantly looked at me. I shook my head, promising them there was no chance I’d eat a cricket. In the back of my mind, though, I started to feel a creeping sense of curiosity. As our guides were munching away, Pete could tell I was starting to feel really conflicted and quietly started trying to convince me to eat one. He knew I’d regret it if I didn’t, and gosh darn it, we both knew he was right. Over the next few minutes, my whole body started shaking and became very hot as I battled with myself. Right as we were about to leave, I said, “Wait! I want to try one.” I decided I could eat one, as long as Pete put it in my mouth for me.
I kept my eyes closed as Pete stuck the toothpick in the cricket, dipped it in sauce, and put it in my mouth. I furiously crunched on the bug, wanting to be sure there wouldn’t be any cricket remains in my teeth.
When I was sure it was fully masticated, I swallowed and said, “It wasn’t that bad!” And it really wasn’t. Pete had been right – it did taste a bit like a potato chip!
I walked back to the motorcycle on clouds, but still shaking from the adrenaline. I was so incredibly proud of myself. I know that’s super lame, but it’s true. I was floating on air.
As my driver pulled us away from the shop, he turned around to lay some wisdom on me. I will never forget what he said (or rather, shouted in between looking forward at the road): “Every day, you only get one chance. If you don’t take it, you will live with that forever. Forever!”
I know it’s cliche, but in that moment, he said exactly what I needed to hear. Yes, I achieved a lame milestone of eating crazy local food. But more than that, I learned an important lesson, and I’m so grateful he drove the point home.