Ben Finklestein

Red ant egg omelet

Trust me - you'll love it.


In the opening scene of Tiziano Terzani's excellent travel memoir, "A Fortune Teller Told Me," the author eats an ant egg omelet in Laos. When I read about that meal, his last meal in 1992, I imagined that this delicacy had gone by the wayside. Environmental + cultural loss = loss of traditional dishes. Happily I was wrong (not the first time). Matter of fact, in Thailand's relatively modern Chiang Mai, you can still find red ant egg omelet. And believe me - it is worth the effort to make it happen.

One bite in, and I realized I was in for a simple, yet delicious treat. The dish is 60 % egg and 30% ‘sweet vegetable.' If you shovel food into you mouth and forget to chew, a la Homer Simpson, the 10% for ant eggs could almost go unnoticed.
Almost. Kind of chalky in substance, and somewhat bitter in taste, ants eggs have a great texture. To get the full effect, isolate an egg and pop it in your mouth. The broken embryo will run down your mouth and slide down the back of your throat.
Huan Soontaree ouside Chiang Mai is a great place to go to give fire ant egg omelette a shot. It is an absolutely top notch restaurant owned by the former star Soontaree Vechanont. She has been a well known northern Thai singer for almost 2 decades, now she is settled here and she serenades the audience 6 nights a week (excepting Sunday). Noteworthy aside - her stunning daughter frequents the stage on occasion. It might be worth going just to see if her daughter is in town.

You ought to include a visit to Huan Soontaree (www.saochiangmai.com) on a culinary journey in Chiang Mai. First off, it is a gorgeous upriver establishment, set in a modern barn that ties nature with Southeast Asian imagery. The chef is relatively unknown, but she is a actually a low key master currently being recruited by a top Thai restaurant in Sweden.
Fire ant egg season rolls around each year between December - May. Try to make it. I know I will.




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