I’m standing in the middle of Beijing’s bustling Wangfujing snack street holding a skewer of fried scorpion. Strange and wonderful smells drift past my nostrils, a mixture of savory and sweet all at once. It’s crowded, noisy and overwhelming.
My son is looking at the stick of skewered scorpion in disgust. He’s flat out refused to try it, wrinkling his nose and sticking out his tongue.
Behind me live scorpions wriggle on sticks. I wonder if they are aware of their fate. If they are actually still alive, or if the wriggle is just nerves.
My son has decided to video my attempt to eat fried scorpion, partly because he seriously believes I will chicken out. I tell him that if more people ate insects the world would be more sustainable. But really it’s not environmental ethics that got me into this situation but a dare from my son. I’m doing this because I always say “try it, you might like it”. I’m trying to set an example. It cost me 25 Yuan for this stick of three skewered, fried scorpions – just to prove a point.
So I start with the tail.
It’s crispy and actually not as bad as I thought. It’s like the left-over bits of crisps in a packet – but without the seasoning.
Once that’s down, there’s the body. The body worries me. Will it squish when I bite? Will it ooze out into my mouth? What will that ooze taste like?
My son arches his eyebrows, a clear sign that I need to try more. So I bite the body had and fast, pulling the whole thing off the skewer with my teeth.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
No squish. Phew!
I’ve got this. Even though it’s tickling the roof of my mouth and it’s hard to eat scorpion with your mouth closed. I’m going to finish this thing.
With a grin on my face, I had the stick gleefully to my husband, who promptly downs not one, but two remaining scorpions as I photograph him with my phone.
Once the scorpion is washed down with water and the stick is clean my son says: “I could have done it, if you left me one.”
Perhaps. But I don’t think I could do another one.