Little larvae, powerful performance

KALASIN: Aphrodisiacs and sex aids come in many forms. The Chinese have rhino horns and tiger penis, while Viagra has spread from America to become a worldwide craze allowing a generation of aging lotharios to revisit the prowess they enjoyed in younger days.

In Isarn, however, the latest sex-aid craze is neither the body part of an endangered species nor something cooked up in Dexter’s lab. It is small, green and lives on leaves: the humble caterpillar.

Villagers in Kalasin, especially young men, have been collecting bags of the little larvae to eat raw and enjoy as a drinking snack or to use as an ingredient in traditional dishes.

The caterpillars have become so popular that the price has shot up to a hefty 200 baht a kilo.

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After hearing of the craze, a reporter from Thai daily Khao Sod on April 28 headed to Kalasin Polytechnic to investigate. The school has become a focus of caterpillar collectors due to the abundance of the larva’s favourite food source, the somewhat smuttily named golden-shower tree.

At the school, the reporter met a crowd of villagers who had travelled all the way from Khao Wong District armed with baskets and sticks, ready to collect the creepy crawlies.

Phunsuk Sripramai, 31, told the reporter that collecting caterpillars to eat was nothing new in Isarn. The bugs are a seasonal food, found mainly on golden-shower and Siamese cassia trees. The caterpillars, known as nang bong, are larger and tastier than those found in Northern Thailand, he said with pride.

The bugs are highly sought after by local people, who believe they have healing properties and improve sexual performance. They are now particularly popular with young men who eat them raw as a drinking snack, he explained.

Wirasak Janthadee, who had come from Thakhantho District to look for caterpillars, said he liked to eat nang bong in the hot season. Village elders say that whoever eats nang bong at this time of year will enjoy improved performance in bed and the healing of many body organs.

K. Wirasak, 45, recalled how he had long been stricken with gout until he began eating nang bong.

As for the sexual performance, eating caterpillars while drinking whiskey creates a potent aphrodisiacal effect, he added.

“Mostly they are used as an ingredient in traditional Isarn dishes such as laap and kaeng pa. They can be fried or roasted; whatever you prefer. What is certain is that if you eat about 12 of them they will fill your body with vigor,” K. Wirasak said.

As for a medical opinion, Dr Phisit Eua-wongsakul of the Kalasin Provincial Public Health Office said that eating the caterpillars would do no harm. In fact, they are similar in nutritive value to eggs, he said.

However, he could not confirm the rumored healing and aphrodisiac properties, which require further study. To be on the safe side, the caterpillars should be well cooked before eating, he advised.

Thailand News
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