Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mopane Worms

Before leaving for Africa I knew that we were going to The Boma in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and that we would have an opportunity to try mopane worms. I did some research and found this wonderful article in the New York Daily News titled, "Worms! A look at Zimbabwe's favorite snack: mopane worms," an article from January 25, 2013. 

Mopane (say it "moh-paw-knee") worms are caterpillars of the emperor moth, and as described in the article, can be as long as a finger and as thick as a cigar. They get their name from feeding on leaves of the mopane tree. The worms are gathered and then squeezed and a disgusting green slime erupts emptying the caterpillar's entrails. The worms are then dried in the sun and eaten dry, or cooked and put in sauce. 

Earlier in the day we took a canoe trip down the Zambezi River and two of the other participants, a father and his 13 year old son, described being at The Boma the night before and getting certificates for eating mopane worms. We were primed for our visit later that evening. 
Note the worm-like figure on the sign. 
The Boma had both kinds and lots of signs highlighting them. The dried mopane worms were in a woven basket with a spoon strategically placed in it so that you could take a spoonful. A sign below helped identify the contents. 
About ten yards away was a small table with a small cast iron pot on it and similar looking worms in a reddish sauce. Next to it was a sign and also certificates that could be taken by those who tried them. 
Note the worm-like figures on top of the sign. 

I took some of each on a plate and went back to our table for a sample.

We'd eaten worms in Mexico recently and that helped my mental preparation, so it wasn't too hard. The dried worms were quite crispy and broke into little shards, kind of like popcorn pieces that stick in the throat and cause you to cough. The taste was okay, but it took forever to chew and try to get it all down. I disliked the texture. 
The real deal: dried on the left and saucy on the right. 
The more moist worms in the sauce were easier to eat and tasted better. They held together better, soaked up the sauce and were not bad. 

We had better food in Africa, but none quite so interesting. 

1 comment:

  1. I can check that off of my list of "Foods to Eat Before I Die" (or was it "Foods to Eat to Make Me Die"?). I don't have the need to ever try them again.