Strange Snacks of the World — Rice Worms


They came in a clear cellophane bag with bright red trim. They looked pretty good, but as I peered into the bag I couldn’t really tell what they were. “Kong kang,” said the counterguy with a smile. “You don’t mean kang kung,” I replied, using a common name for water spinach. The shopkeeper looked over at his companions and they all started to guffaw.

Had I just made my first joke in Siamese, or had I just made a fool of myself? Either way, the curled brown snacks proved delicious when I got them home–salty and sweet at the same time, with a whiff of exotic herbs that may have included lemongrass and screwpine. There were some chile flakes in the mix, too, making them a perfect snack.

A little web and cookbook research yielded inconclusive results, except that the snack is sometimes called in English “rice worms.” Enlighten me if you know more about this snack, which is available at Ayada Grocery, 76-13 Woodside Avenue, Elmhurst, Queens, 718-426-5006.