Life or Death: What to eat if you’re stuck in the jungle (assuming it doesn’t eat you first)…
Above Photo: Stuck in the jungle, it’s a Frog eat Frog world…(ranchomastatal.com)
In my novel BACK, a bunch of desperate backpackers are stranded in the jungle, so I was interested to recently read a list from The Lonely Planet Book of Everything, by Nigel Holmes, about what to eat if you find yourself this unhappy situation.
Although the list begs more questions than it answers (such as how to catch and kill a deadly snake and what kinds to avoid), I recall reading a real-life and very sobering account of a refugee from the Khmer Rouge who escaped through the Cambodian jungle to Thailand, having nothing to eat except a turtle he had to catch then kill with his bare hands.
If you’re unlucky enough to get stuck in the jungle or the bush, you’ll probably eat anything you can find to stay alive, but here are some jungle food recommendations from the Book of Everything, should you find yourself stranded in the Asian jungle.
The white grubs of wood-infesting beetles are perfectly edible if you split their bodies and toast or fry them. You’ll find them in decaying or rotten wood.
All birds are edible, but stay away from those that eat dead animals – vultures and kites – their flesh tastes terrible.
You’ll need to gather a great many of these tiny insects to make a meal. Some say they taste like peanut butter, others liken the taste to 10-day old curdled milk. But they are a good source of protein.
Along with the European edible frog (the kind French restaurants use when they serve frogs’ legs), there are many other frogs that you can eat. Skin all frogs before you cook them.
Lizards and snakes
For the lizard, the meat from its hindquarters and tail is the best. If you catch a snake, remove the head immediately after killing it (and don’t eat this part).
Crickets and grasshoppers
Remove the wings, legs and antennae, then toast them over a fire. You can also eat cicadas, various caterpillars, scorpions and even tarantulas.
Fry them whole. No shortage here: Harvard biologist and ant expert Edward O Wilson has estimated there are between one thousand trillion to 10 thousand trillion ants crawling around the world at any one time. That’s about a million for everyone in the world alive today.
In Thailand and other parts of the world ants are considered a delicacy.
Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
(List adapted from The Lonely Planet Book of Everything by Nigel Holmes, © Lonely Planet 2012.)
Peter Alan Lloyd
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