Bamboo Worms

October is the time for bamboo worms, a local delicacy and important part of the village economy. Bamboo worms, not to belie their name, are found in the hollows of bamboo stalks. They appear in very large numbers during a brief period at the end of the rainy season.

Bamboo worms, known colloquially as "express trains" because of their shape, come at a convenient time to supplement the villagers' incomes, filling the gap between the time of gathering forest products, in particular bamboo shoots, and the time of the rice harvest when work on the fields of lowland Thais is plentiful. Good money can be made selling bamboo worms. One kilogram of bamboo worms sells for 80 to 120 baht ($2-3 US) per kilogram. For comparison, a kilogram of oranges is about 25 baht, a kilogram of rice is 12-20 baht.

Now, I know what you are saying: "You actually eat worms?" The short answer: yes. The longer answer: yes, and they taste pretty good.

To prepare worms, you get out your wok and either fry them in oil or dry stir-fry them - opinions differ on this issue considerably, but I prefer them fried in oil because they become more full-bodied. The worms are also seasoned with salt and, sometimes, crushed dried chilli peppers. They end up tasting sort of like a nuttier version of popcorn and make a very tasty snack to munch on with your favorite Thai beer.

Of course, not everyone likes bamboo worms. Laosan, for one, finds them disgusting. But, millions of people in northern Thailand look forward to every October when they can, for one month, enjoy one of their favorite snacks. So, don't knock them before you try them. You never know, you might like fried bamboo worms as much as I do.