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wow! looks good.


I seem to find myself eating a lot of bugs! Wherever I travel. It sort of goes like this. I ask around and try to unearth the real cuisine of a region, explaining to locals that I want to eat what they eat. It usually starts off pretty tame then somewhere down the line will be the bug cart. Its like a test. Once I pop the water beetles (often mistaken for cockroaches), grubs, grasshoppers, bee larvae, ants, scorpion into my mouth and don't make a fuss, like a silly tourist, the culinary pandora's box is unlocked. Theres definitely a feeling of 'now he understands'. Offal abounds, blood sausages, fiery curries, bush meat, illegal restaurants, blinding liquor, bizarre fruits, wedding banquets. So I guess bugs have made me a lot of foodie friends. And most of the time I actually quite like eating bugs as a snack with lots of chilli oil and MSG with a cold beer. However, I've had those larvae in the jungle in Borneo, I wouldn't have them again either!


I love your articles. I'm not a worm eater but most of your articles are amazing. There are few blogs that I enjoy participating and one of them is marketmanila and yours. Your blog has wonderful photography and good storyline. I like blogs with passion. What a wonderful way of describing food and lifestyle!!


luckyfatluke - well, I don't seek bugs or any sort of thing like that out when I travel, but if it crops up within the natural course of events, like this - I'll try it. I do agree with you though that there is often a sort of boundary 'breached' when you've shown yourself willing to try the spiciest, fishiest, innardy-est, etc.

danney - thanks for the compliments, and for being a regular reader!

Susan in HK

Wow, Robyn, these sound great (yes, I am being sincere). I don't think I could eat the raw, wriggling ones either. The only bugs I've eaten were in Bangkok - the vendor had at least eight kinds. I only sampled three - and they were very small, much smaller than these.



You're braver than I! I'd love to visit my parents' home country someday and try all those different dishes, but I think I'd be too squeamish to try sago worms, fried or not! I do love sago in drinks, though! And I hope you've been getting your fill of halo-halo!


wow! that looks interesting to eat. i hope i can try one of those exotic foods (just for the sake of). i can just imagine the crunch when i bite into those...hehe!


Susan - to me these were more appetizing, hot out of the pan and all salty, than the bug carts in Bangkok, which I've never been inclined to mine. I might be more likely to if I had a beer though. ;-)

Julie - if you were blindfolded and someone placed one on your tongue you'd never have a clue what it was.

jengkie - it was less interesting than tasty. Eating a raw wriggling one would have been interesting ... but I couldn't do it!


Not sure if I could ever try it. However, eating a worm really would not be too much different then a raw clam or oyster. Right? Whenever I was overseas, I always found the strangest/squeamish foods (at least by western standards) always taste the best. Funny how it works that way!


It is eerie how, if one were to suppress every single reference in these three exceptional The Tree of Life posts to Butuan City (and to the Philippines), one could apply the exact same information as if it were coming from elsewhere in this part of the Pacific. The exact same 1.) technique of sago-starch-extraction, 2.) the making of these sago and coconut griddle cakes, 3.) the gastronomy of sago worms can also be found not only among the Kadazan in Borneo, but also in the Sarawak and also among the Asmats in Papua New Guinea. In Sabah, these worms (called abatud around Butuan City) are called butod and are enjoyed in virtually the same way. And Sabah and this part of Northern Mindanao have as far as we know had virtually no contact for centuries (except possibly trade of the most superficial sort: i.e. through middlemen-Arabs, Chinese etc). And yet, they share aspects of what one must imagine to be a truly ancient, truly primeval jungle ecology!


P.S. the continuity of Sabahan and Filipino cuisine still remains completely unexplored. After Doreen Fernandez and Ed Alegre's ground-breaking work on kinilaw, it has become quite clear that kinilaw is one of the most universal and most fundamental aspects of Philippine gastronomy. Yet Sabahans also have kinilaw-which they call hinava. Where else could we trace connections: to the Ryukyus up north? and beyond that to ancient forms of Japanese sushi?

Shanti Christensen

I love chicharron. I like eating the fatty part of roasted or fried pork, but the thought of fat oozing from a fat larvae is something I'll contend with if ever in the moment. Although, I imagine it would be delicious since I love sago so much (in desserts).

I find it funny, when food is offered to guests for honorary reasons or simple hospitality, only to find everyone else in the room won't oblige out of distaste. That happens to me a lot. You can't really refuse (except for the raw wriggling larvae; I'm with you there), so you accept and give a respectful reaction almost convincing everyone that you like it. No one else will have the treat, but now you've shown that you genuinely like it. Such is my typical experience with new foods introduced to me by generous hosts.

Thanks for the windows into Filipino culture I don't know about. I'm sharing this with my mom.


We ate sago worms wile growing up in my country. Our parents used to catch them for us when we were little. It is picked after palm wine has been made and the tree got completely spoiled. The best way to cook it is to clean the guts from the back and steam it in plantain leaves with peppers, onions and salt. These were a delicacy back in the days and I can honestly say i still miss it.

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