God bless Golden Pacific! Had to pick up a few things and, as always, the shelves there contain the most remarkable items. Today, I found True Bug Flavoring Essence.
What's even better is the ingredient list: it contains "Artificial True Bug Flavor." Of course, if you look closely, you'll see that the hexenyl acetate and hexenyl butyrate are "synthetic harmless solvents," too!
The owner was shocked when I showed up at the checkout counter with it. He told me how to use it (a couple drops in your chili sauce) and we discussed being open to new flavors. But I didn't really know what it was until I got home and looked it up on the internet. I even found a French-language site that insisted that this is the real secret behind a successful bowl of pho! "But what is it," you ask. I'm glad you asked.
"The Thai water bugs are about 3 inches long, and look much like a big big version of its North American buddy. The water bugs live in the rice fields and farmers catch them at night by using a light to lure the bugs into a net. The scent of the bug is important in Thai cuisine, especially in nam prig or chili sauce type of dishes. The wings and head are removed, and the rest of the body, including the legs, are eaten. Water bugs are very difficult to find at Oriental markets. So far, I can only locate them at a few markets in California. However, the artificial scent is a lot easier to find. It comes in a tiny jar with a dropper wrapped in a tiny box that says 'Mangdana essence'."
Hey, for 99 cents, why not try something new tonight?
"I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)