The French Fry Beetles


“Would you like to try a bug?” The translator held out a shiny black beetle, oil glistening on its spindly legs. “It tastes just like French fries!”

We were interviewing students at one of ASAP’s schools in Cambodia when, during a break, our translator offered to take us to visit the home of Sor Rueb, one of the school’s students. In a tiny, three-sided bamboo shack located right behind the school’s back wall we met Mr. and Mrs. Rueb, a hard-working couple with three children. Their two oldest children were students at the school, and the translator visited them often.

Mrs. Rueb showed us her husband’s latest catch as the translator explained that the family is very poor. To provide for the family Mr. Rueb wakes up while it’s still dark and travels many miles along bumpy roads on a borrowed motorbike, balancing a five-gallon bucket between his knees. He is in search of black water beetles, considered a delicacy in Cambodia, which reside in remote rivers and lakes. Using a handmade wooden net, he scoops the bugs out of the water to catch them in his bucket. It’s extremely hard work. At home, Mrs. Rueb deep-fries the insects in oil, scoops them up two cups at a time into small plastic bags, and sells them for a dollar each. The kids at the school love to eat the oily treats as a snack. We watched several of them eagerly crunching away through the tough exoskeletons like they were sunflower seeds!

Looking at the swimming, shimmering, mass of live beetles filling the five-gallon bucket, our insides began to feel a little squirmy. We couldn’t imagine the courage it takes to wade through murky streams, sifting through mud and leaves to catch the insects, some of which can give you a painful bite! It was humbling to witness the sacrifices this family makes continually to ensure their children have access to a Christian education.

Sor Rueb, the eldest daughter of the Rueb family, is 10 years old and in fourth grade at the school. Sor loves coming to church and learning about Jesus and the Bible in school. One day she wants to be an English teacher, because she wants to help people communicate with foreigners.

When Sor was in second grade, she began to suffer from diabetes. The whole church began praying for her, and she had to make several trips to the hospital in Siem Riep. This was very expensive, especially for her family. When we met Sor’s parents they were praising God that their daughter had been healed about six months ago and continues to be well. Now that they have learned more about the health message, Sor has been careful to avoid eating certain foods so she can be healthier and make sure the diabetes doesn’t come back.

Like many other students at her school, Sor is able to enjoy a Christian education thanks in part to the sponsorship of donors like you! Her parents rely on the scholarship she recieves to cover the remaining cost of tuition that they are unable to pay. Each time you sponsor a student at one of ASAP’s schools, you help children like Sor to learn more about Jesus.

As the translator purchased a bag of beetles and continued offering them to our group, the adventurous among us decided it would be polite to at least try one little crunchy nibble. Although we wouldn’t advise consuming deep fried water beetles as part of a health-conscious diet, we can confirm that they do, indeed, taste like French fries.