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listopencil
04-20-2015, 10:03 PM
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Edible insects are sold on the street in Bangkok's Sukhumvit area, including fried crickets, silkworms, grasshoppers and a whole lot of other things I can't identify and definitely don't want to.

Michael Sullivan for NPR

C'mon, who doesn't like bugs in a bag? Crunchy little critters that are good and good for you? Panitan Tongsiri is hoping the answer is: no one.

The 29-year-old Thai entrepreneur is trying to change the way Thais eat insects — OK, the way some Thais eat insects — one bag at a time.

On the streets of Bangkok, you can buy just about any kind of food you can imagine. And more you probably don't want to. Pad Thai, spicy stir-fried shrimp with noodles, thick red chicken curries would fall into the first category. Fried silkworm larvae, grasshoppers or stir-fried bees might fall into the latter.

Many Thais — in fact, many people all over the world — eat insects. And Panitan is hoping to expand the market in Thailand by bringing deep-fried insects off the street and into convenience stores and gourmet shops. He believes there's a vast, untapped market out there, and he wants to plug the hole.

"Thai people have been eating insects for a long time," he says. "The traditional way is to buy it from a street vendor. But nowadays, when you want to buy edible insects, you have to wait for a street vendor to come. That's the first problem."

Neil deGrasse Tyson with a Cambodian cricket rumaki canape, wrapped in bacon. "I have come to surmise, in the culinary universe, that anytime someone feels compelled to wrap something in bacon, it probably doesn't taste very good," he said skeptically before taking a bite.

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"They don't have any real quality control or any standards. And the third problem is perception of edible insects, for some people. They are on the news on TV often, but it's always bad news. People eat insects, then they go to the hospital. So we have to solve all these three problems at once."

Panitan is a graduate of Bangkok's prestigious Chulalongkorn University, with a degree in psychology and a keen interest in marketing and design. His company has been selling bugs in a bottle for a couple of years now, with mixed success. So he and his partners decided to build the brand by targeting young people, and those just entering the workforce, who haven't eaten bugs before or had a chance to form a bad impression of the practice — television notwithstanding.

The HiSo brand of fried silkworm pupae and crickets is the result. These snacks come in small, colorful, potato chip-size bags that extol the health benefits of crispy critters — something the United Nations is on board with, too. A 2013 report by the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization suggests that edible insects could help offset food insecurity as the world's population increases — they're high in protein, vitamins and fiber.

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Women at the HiSo factory outside Bangkok thaw, clean and process the insects that come frozen from the farm from which they are sourced.

Michael Sullivan for NPR

Panitan and his partners are doing their bit: They're already churning out their new bugs-in-a-bag in a factory on the outskirts of the capital. Two women in white smocks and hairnets clean and prep the insects that arrive quick-frozen from the farm where they're sourced. The bugs are inspected, then taken into the kitchen for deep-frying.

Panitan can't show me the frying station. It's a sterile area, and you need a health certificate to be able to enter. Even he can't go in. So we go upstairs to sample the product.

"We have four flavors: seaweed, barbecue, cheese and original, which is soy sauce and pepper," he explains. "The most popular is the original, because people are used to it —it's the same taste as the street vendors."

"We produce many flavors to attract people who haven't tried before," he goes on. "They're used to barbecue, seaweed and cheese from other snacks. So we have to link behavior" — here's where his interests in psychology and marketing meet – "to these flavors." For now, the product line is limited to just two insects, silkworm pupae and the house cricket.

Not grasshopper. Cricket. I try the seaweed flavor, which is OK as far as crunchiness, but the taste? Uh-uh. For thoroughness, I also sample the cheesy silkworm larvae and the barbecue cricket. Not impressed with those, either. In fact, the original flavor turns out to be my favorite. And Panitan's, too.

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The new line of HiSo edible insects. The fried crickets are on the top row, in order: original flavor, cheese, barbecue, seaweed. The fried silkworm pupae snacks are seen on the bottom row, in the same order of flavors.

Michael Sullivan for NPR

I go back into the city to get a real bug eater's opinion and find 32-year-old Patcharee Sanpantana, who works at a small boutique hotel in the Sukhumvit area. She's skeptical — fresh is best, she says — but is willing to try.

She starts with the original, which she calls "pretty good" and "salty." The seaweed crickets are a no-go, but the cheesy silkworm larvae are pretty good, too, she says. Most important, she says she'd definitely pay the asking price of 25 baht a bag (about 75 cents) to eat them again.

And then a customer walks into the hotel, a Brit named Adam Bennington, and I offer him a taste. He gamely accepts. His face brightens after a go at the cheesy crickets.

"That's not bad at all," he says, adding, "If I was going to sit down and have a few drinks and someone was to present me with a bowl of those, I would not not eat them. I'd still like crisps or chips or nuts, like anybody else, but it's nice to have something different."

Panitan isn't just waiting for word of mouth to increase his brand's popularity. He also has a small fleet of tricked-out motorcycle carts that spread the bug-eating gospel on the streets of Bangkok.

He says he has no plans to export his snacks outside Southeast Asia just yet, though several U.S. and European firms are already buying his cricket powder. And in a few months, his new factory will open and expand production tenfold.

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The company has taken the usual insect vendor's truck and tricked it out with lights and music in an effort, in Panitan's words, to improve the image of the edible insects by making the cart more fun and attractive and to build awareness of the brand.
Michael Sullivan for NPR


"Our company is ready for the world," he says. "If you want to order any kind of edible insect in any form, we're ready. And our clients have the same vision as us, see the future."

The future: bugs in a bag, coming soon to a 7-Eleven near you?

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/04/15/394849989/street-food-no-more-bug-snacks-move-to-store-shelves-in-thailand?

Baby Lee
04-20-2015, 10:08 PM
I think the biggest problem with bugs is where they come from [trash, carrion, shit] and being so small people are leery about how clean they are, physically.

On those lines, I'd hypothesize that people would eat grasshoppers [out in the amber waves of grain] before they'd eat ants or roaches [under your leaking fridge].

Why Not?
04-20-2015, 10:09 PM
This thread bugs me.

listopencil
04-20-2015, 10:11 PM
I think I would eat an ant before I'd eat a grasshopper. I probably could not bring myself to eat a grasshopper. Total no-go on the roach or the grub worm.

listopencil
04-20-2015, 10:11 PM
Unless I was really hungry or needed to cure a hangover.

Why Not?
04-20-2015, 10:14 PM
I legitamtely think in all seriousness, that I would allow myself to starve to death before I ate a cockroach.

listopencil
04-20-2015, 10:24 PM
Uh oh. PETA is going to be all over this:

http://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/what-about-insects-and-other-pests/

Rain Man
04-20-2015, 10:26 PM
Be aware that FDA standards will allow these bags to contain up to 50 parts per million of wheat

BucEyedPea
04-20-2015, 10:47 PM
I think I would eat an ant before I'd eat a grasshopper. I probably could not bring myself to eat a grasshopper. Total no-go on the roach or the grub worm.

Haven't you ever drank a Grasshopper? :hmmm:

It's like having a chocolate mint after dinner.

Hootie
04-20-2015, 10:48 PM
Aramark better watch their backs

BucEyedPea
04-20-2015, 10:48 PM
Be aware that FDA standards will allow these bags to contain up to 50 parts per million of wheat

Rules it out for me with a wheat allergy. :clap:

BucEyedPea
04-20-2015, 10:50 PM
Some of those bins look no different than a prawn or a shrimp—which are kinda like the insects of the ocean when you think about it. LMAO

Mind over matter. Except for eating a roach!

srvy
04-21-2015, 05:49 AM
Everyone here has ate a bug you just didn't know it.

Baby Lee
04-21-2015, 06:27 AM
Everyone here has ate a bug you just didn't know it.

Not Claynus, he's a welcher.

kcchiefsus
04-21-2015, 06:45 AM
I've had silk worm, wasn't too bad.

TimBone
04-21-2015, 06:50 AM
You see, Clay? It's not that fucking difficult. Some folks are actually paying for it.

Be a man of your word and eat the damn bug.

Pasta Giant Meatball
04-21-2015, 10:10 AM
You see, Clay? It's not that fucking difficult. Some folks are actually paying for it.

Be a man of your word and eat the damn bug.

:evil:

Pasta Giant Meatball
04-21-2015, 10:11 AM
Not Claynus, he's a welcher.

You're goddamn right

PunkinDrublic
04-21-2015, 10:15 AM
Thailand had some of the weirdest food stalls I've ever seen. When I was there last year, one guy was selling nothing but scorpions on a skewer.

Rain Man
04-21-2015, 03:45 PM
Thailand had some of the weirdest food stalls I've ever seen. When I was there last year, one guy was selling nothing but scorpions on a skewer.


I wonder how a person gets into that line of business.

listopencil
04-21-2015, 04:59 PM
I wonder how a person gets into that line of business.

Build a cart, catch some scorpions, cook them, skewer them, profit.

srvy
04-21-2015, 05:28 PM
I wonder how a person gets into that line of business.

Must be a demand for it. My wife said in the Philippines a cycle of cicadas is a big event. They get out big nets in the clouds of emerging cicadas deep fry them and have a big fiesta and feast. Kinda like a celebration of de nutting cows and hogs. Have a big fry afterward with beer.

listopencil
04-21-2015, 05:52 PM
Haven't you ever drank a Grasshopper? :hmmm:

It's like having a chocolate mint after dinner.

I am very simple in my tastes of adult beverages. Rum and Coke, screwdrivers and margaritas do it for me. Or just tequila shots/scotch on the rocks when I don't feel like messing around.

Baby Lee
04-21-2015, 08:18 PM
I am very simple in my tastes of adult beverages. Rum and Coke, screwdrivers and margaritas do it for me. Or just tequila shots/scotch on the rocks when I don't feel like messing around.

Why so sweet?

Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds, Gin and Tonic, Dirty Martini with roquefort olives.

And bourbon neat for nightcaps.

Vietnam58
04-21-2015, 09:13 PM
Thailand had some of the weirdest food stalls I've ever seen. When I was there last year, one guy was selling nothing but scorpions on a skewer.

Most of those guys are just selling to tourist so they can take their photo with a Scorpion on a stick. . you dont see any local Thais eating it ..

listopencil
04-21-2015, 09:43 PM
Why so sweet?

Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds, Gin and Tonic, Dirty Martini with roquefort olives.

And bourbon neat for nightcaps.

For some reason I do not like savory alcoholic drinks. By the ingredients I should love a bloody mary but it just doesn't taste right to me. Can't stand a martini. I go with shots, on the rocks or sweet drinks.

BucEyedPea
04-21-2015, 10:25 PM
I am very simple in my tastes of adult beverages. Rum and Coke, screwdrivers and margaritas do it for me. Or just tequila shots/scotch on the rocks when I don't feel like messing around.

Well, I don't drink 'em either. I was just having fun. I'm a Mojito and Margarita person for cocktails. Bloody Mary's for brunches.

Baby Lee
04-21-2015, 10:27 PM
Mmmmm Mojitos. Muddling is a first rate buzzed activity.

BucEyedPea
04-21-2015, 10:28 PM
Mmmmm Mojitos. Muddling is a first rate buzzed activity.

I'm a great muddler. I grow mint for them now too. So thirst quenching, especially in summers.

kepp
04-22-2015, 07:51 AM
They sell dried everything there. I've tried a few of their "snacks". Most of them leave me wanting some mouthwash.

Pasta Giant Meatball
04-22-2015, 08:12 AM
Why so sweet?

Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds, Gin and Tonic, Dirty Martini with roquefort olives.

And bourbon neat for nightcaps.

I get an Old Fashioned from the lady once a week

Gonzo
04-22-2015, 08:25 AM
Are they gluten free?