Airdate: Apr 08, 1999
Scientist: Peter Menzel
EDIBLE ARTHROPODS- Scorpions
Here's one way to enjoy fresh scorpions-- but don't try it at home.
In a crowded restaurant in Central China, diners feast on fried scorpions, with a cup of tea. But aren't scorpions poisonous? I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
Peter Menzel is the photographer and co-author of a book on edible insects and other arthropods. During the course of his research, he visited China, where beetles, silkworms and scorpions are all popular item on restaurant menus.
"Scorpions do have poisonous stings but you're able to eat them. In China the way that they handle the poison is that they stir fry them very quickly in very hot oil. So in a manner of seconds the proteins that make up the poisons are rendered harmless. I also ate them live. My wife wouldn't partake of this. The chef brought out live scorpions for us to eat and the way he handled them was delicately with a pair of chopsticks and he immersed them in rice wine until they were semi-comatose. They thrashed around quite a bit when he first put them in but after about thirty seconds, they became rather inebriated. He removed them and with a pair of scissors clipped off the poison sac and stinger and then he popped them in his mouth and ate them. They tasted like a raw shrimp."
By the way, we do not recommend the handling or eating of any poisonous animals. Peter, however, in the spirit of adventurous dining, has also eaten tarantulas - deep fried in Cambodia and roasted over a fire in Venezuela. He tells us that tarantulas taste like smoky, crunchy crab meat.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.