When chef James Syhabout set out to write his new cookbook, Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef's Isan Thai & Lao Roots, he sampled a recipe that is not on most American dinner tables: Fire ant salad.
It's a traditional Lao dish that he ate in his mother's home village. The ants nest in mango trees, and little children are sent into the tree to harvest the ants and their eggs.
"We got this salad, came to the table and there's like ants crawling in and out of it," Syhabout says. "You just bite them before they bite you."