Monday, November 06, 2006
I (Almost) Ate Bugs!
So, as I'm sure you're all dying to hear the details of the last few days of my vacation--my recent blogging silence has been due to out-of-town guests, not rabies or motorcycle accidents or floods--I'll share at least one funny story, mostly because it's too surreal to be kept secret.
After recovering from my mysterious illness with even more mysterious drugs--does anybody know what "Floksid" is? Google doesn't--I went out to some random village near Salatiga with a friend and her entire extended family. Seeing the traditional old Javanese house where her traditional old Javanese grandparents live was a good time, but the fact of the matter is that hanging out with other people's families is, for the most part, boring. They're wonderful people and they were very kind and friendly to me, for which I'm very grateful, but holidays consist mostly of sitting around chatting, which I don't understand, or reviving old family memories, which I don't share.
Anyway. This introduction is nice and all, but is it germane? I do have a story to tell, after all. After coming home from a Lebaran party, which consisted entirely of sitting in chairs and staring at the other guests, we found my friend's uncle entirely absorbed in what is, apparently, one of his favorite hobbies: collecting bugs for dinner.
I'll let you all absorb that for a minute. It certainly took me some time to believe that was really what he was doing. ("Am I understanding this correctly? Did he really just say he was going to fry them?") This was especially stunning because her uncle is no village hick; he's a surgeon who owns a very successful practice in Semarang, the fifth-largest city in Indonesia. A surgeon, for heaven's sake. In the medical profession. People trust this man with their health.
It blows my mind. He claims that these bugs are the reason he had the energy for med school: they're full of protein, he told me, and they will make me smart. Luckily for me, I didn't stick around long enough to find out; my ride back to Semarang left before dinner that night, so I didn't have to be subjected to pressure to eat insects. (I would have done it, too, if only to title this blog entry with a panicked, "I Ate Bugs!") I did, however, spend a good three hours squatting near the swarm, watching various members of the family using a toothpick and/or fingers to collect the biggest, juiciest specimens they could. Good times.
And as for what kind of bugs they are, I'm not exactly sure. At first I thought they were ants, but upon closer inspection, they were bigger and not quite shaped the same. They were certainly swarming out of a crack in the floor like ants, and the large winged ones, the kind the surgeon fries and eats, remind me of the large winged ants we used to get in Virginia. Perhaps someone with a gift for entomology can look at the photos and take a guess? Me, I'll just be quietly sitting in a corner somewhere, trying to figure out what path my life has taken to bring me to this point. That, and waiting for more of those supposedly delicious, protein-rich insects.