Oddly Enough

You want tarantula with that? At U.S. burger joint, it's an option

DURHAM, N.C. (Reuters) - Kristin Barnaby, a self-described arachnophobe, found a way to overcome what she dreads at a North Carolina burger joint.

“I am going to eat my fear,” the 27-year-old said at the Bull City Burger and Brewery, where she tucked in to a hamburger topped with a crunchy full-grown, oven-roasted tarantula and a side of fries.

The tarantula burger was a feature of the restaurant’s April exotic meat month, which in the past six years has featured iguana, alligator, camels, python, turtle and various insects.

Tarantulas made their debut after restaurant owner Seth Gross read about how they have become a street food staple in Cambodia, where they are mixed with salt and sugar and cooked.

“I thought this would be a great way to really teach about diversity,” Gross said in an interview.

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The tarantula burger is not for everyone. Gross gets only 15 of the farmed, organically raised creatures each year, so diners need to be lucky, as well as daring, to get a taste.

“You come in, you fill in a lottery ticket,” he said. “If we draw your name, you come and get to eat one.”

The lucky winners have up to 48 hours to claim their prize and Gross said none have yet backed out.

And what do tarantulas taste like?

“It reminded me of potato chips,” Barnaby said after washing down her first tarantula burger with a glass of water. “I like to eat weird food.”

Reporting by Njuwa Maine; Writing by Peter Szekely; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott