The Unvegan

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Strange Meats: Mopani Worm

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me...
Nobody likes me, everybody hates me…

Have you ever accidentally swallowed a fly and been told it’s good protein? Well, it’s true and flies aren’t alone in the bug world as a good source of protein. And in some places the bugs are eaten deliberately. I’ve seen scorpions and tarantulas eaten in China, heard about eating silkworms in Korea and now have my own bug-eating experience in Zimbabwe.

I'm gonna eat some wooooorms.
I’m gonna eat some wooooorms.

In Zimbabwe, the bug of choice is called the Mopani Worm (or Macimbi by Victoria Falls locals). As opposed to what we usually think of as worms, the Mopani Worm is one of those worms that finds itself in a cocoon and emerges as a moth. In other words, it’s a caterpillar. But after a good grilling, it looks like a charred finger, or as one of my readers suggested, a llama penis.

The first bite.
The first bite.

In other words, it doesn’t exactly look like good eating, but it really is a source of protein in Zimbabwe and I was sure it would taste better than another source of protein known as tofu. Plus, the place I was eating at in Victoria Falls was handing out certificates for first-time eaters and I will apparently go so far as to eat worms for a certificate.

Anything for a certificate.
Anything for a certificate.

The result was something that looked much worse than it tasted. It had a crunchy Cheetos-like texture to it, but the flavor was far different. The closest description of flavor I can come up with is that it was kind of nutty. I had heard this about silkworms, and it either held somewhat true for Mopani Worms as well or my mind just sent me in that direction. Whatever the taste or texture, I wasn’t exactly eager to eat more. It’s not so much that it tasted bad, but more that I saw no reason to continue to eat a worm when I had lamb, warthog, beef and more delicious sources of protein to munch on instead.

The moral of the story, though, is that worms aren’t so bad to eat. Unless they are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms…