Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Months and months ago... yes, it's been impossible to blog about it before now because the internet would NEVER allow me to load the pictures... I went to Zimbabwe for my long-term visa. While I was there, I took advantage of the opportunity to shop for things that are just not found in Moz.

Bag of bugs! Yum!
The aisles and aisles of goodies in the local supermarket were startlingly cheap and I confess I went all out.

The thing is... they had things I'd never seen before. The most surprising of these options were caterpillars.

Hard.    Spiky.    Crusty.    Dried up caterpillars in a bag.

I picked it up to make sure my eyes were not playing games with my mind. Peering through the plastic, I inspected one black creepy crawly after the other until I was convinced.

The crawlers before they were cooked
A black man stocking the shelf beside me caught my eye and I turned to him for help.
-- "Is this really what I think it is?" I asked innocently. "Are these caterpillars?"
He smiled, nodded his head, then said, "Yes. They are really tasty."
-- "Tasty huh?" I said with a smile. "But how do you eat them? Do you just eat them like chips... out of the bag?"
-- "No, no, no," he laughed, taking the bag of critters from my hands, "You cook them first. They are delicious. I always have a bag full in my car for snacks."
-- "Really?" I said with excitement (I'm always looking for new, crazy foods), "Can you tell me how?"
He smiled wider, assuring me it was simple and taking me through the steps one by one.

Caterpillar Recipe: 

Step One~
Soak, then boil the caterpillars until they are soft.

Step Two~
Boil them so they get cleaned out and turn rubbery. 

Step Three~
Dice onions and tomatoes and whatever else you think will be tasty. 

Step Four~
Strain the softened caterpillars and toss out the water.

Step Five~
Sautee onions and caterpillars in a saucepan, seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Step Six~
Add the tomatoes, keeping heat low so it does not burn.

Step Seven~
Dish them up and enjoy! 

Fun note: I found them to be wetter (and chewier) than I expected from the store clerks recipe. So I asked a Zimbabwean friend what I did wrong. His reply was that it was perfect, but if I wanted snacks for the road, I'd have to fry them longer.

(Optional) Step Eight~
Fry in more oil, until crispy.

Note: So I did what I was told... but I fried them too long and got this.

Step Nine~
Enjoy with gusto! 

Side Note: As I'm sure you can see... they look exactly like they did out of the bag. So I can only assume that I overcooked them.

However, my Zimbabwean friends didn't mind at all. Nor did I. Honestly, I found them better when crispy. They are easier to chew.

So there you have it. Once again, I'm convinced that any bug is yummy if deep fried long enough!       

Moral of the story: Some people eat chicken. Some people eat steak. And some people eat... caterpillars?  

Swimming with Sharks!

Much can be said about birthdays. The more you have... the longer you live!
        --- Personally, I like them.

This year's birthday was extra special though; I got to cross off another long life dream from my bucket list.

I went swimming with Great White Sharks!

For anyone who knows me even a little, you aren't surprised by my thrill seeking decisions.
        --- Life is an adventure and is worth living well! 

So when I realized that I'd be in South Africa again on my birthday this year, (attending the wonderful and amazing Calvary Chapel African Conference near Cape Town!) I immediately started planning how and when I might swim with the fishes (aka: the Great White overgrown guppies with teeth!)

As it would turn out, the cost was much less than I expected and all was arranged pretty quickly. My missionary friends were not interested in joining me but they were willing to get me to the boat on time. This was no easy task however, as we had to be out the door by five a.m. to make it!

Fortunately the day was warm and beautiful for this time of year and the sea was calm. Since it is still late winter in South Africa, the waters were chilly --a startling 53 degrees Fahrenheit (or 11 degrees Celsius).

As I waited my turn, five to six sharks turned circles about our boat, nibbling at our fish-head bait before moving on. I was surprised to learn that although they come to investigate the bait, sharks are not scavengers by nature. They much prefer fresh meals. Who knew?!

I also learned that they are not at all interested in human blood. (It does not register as 'food' to them.) And shark attacks are usually as a result of them confusing humans for seals --especially those humans on surf boards.
      ---What a crunchy surprise they must have at first chomp!

Convincing myself to get into the water was hard, however. It was not the sharks but the cold that worried me. Even with my full body wet suit, I'd knew I'd freeze. But in the end, the desire to see the slick beasts up close won out, and I jumped in.

The visibility was fair but the viewing was best from the boat by the time my turn at the cage came around. Fortunately, I was able to see at least one of the sharks underwater before we had to close up shop and head home.

Since my camera was unable to capture the overgrown guppies when they surfaced, I purchased a video of the day from the boat photographer. Enjoy!

Video filmed by the unknown boat photographer at Shark Lady Adventures.

Not All Storm Clouds Rain...

In August, I made a purchase of a deep freezer. It's small and fits in the corner of my kitchen, allowing me the privilege of buying meat once a week --rather than having to buy it day after day.

After pricing things out, I discovered it was heaps cheaper to buy an animal and have it dressed than to buy it in the supermarket.

(I'm not ready to buy it from the outdoor market yet... the flies and blood stained wooden counters somehow throw me off.)

So I asked around and found someone who was selling pigs... and went to meet him.

Chris is a Catholic friar from Louisiana with a background in agriculture. He's been working in Mozambique for about two years and was disappointed to find out that very few Mozambicans are willing to eat pork.

However, I was not upset by this news because it meant that he had an excess of pork... and was more than willing to off load it for cheap.

How to buy a pig in Mozambique ~

Day one: Meet Chris and select the white beast for execution. Ask one of his workers to butcher it in exchange for all the offal and feet.     ---What a bargain! 

Day two: Go pick up my shaved and slaughtered pig, then notice a number of goats for sale... ask about the price of goats and a broken container. Take home my pig in nice happy sections and pile it neatly in my freezer --with the head on top staring through the zip lock bag! 

Day three: Go back for a (live) goat and the broken water container (which Chris was willing to part with for free and will be used, God willing, in an aquaponics project).

Easy. Peasy.

After buying my goat, I asked the Chris and the other Mozambican staff for name suggestions (since she was intended as a pet rather than dinner) but no one was willing to name her. But as I was about to leave another friar showed up, Andres from Spain, and he suggested I call her "Storm Cloud" since her white and grey coat resembled the stormy evening quick approaching.

I agreed that would be a good name for her... and quickly dubbed her Nebulada (or Storm Cloud in Portuguese).

We piled her on the trailer, tying her to the inside of the broken container and off we went. But instead of raining... this Storm Cloud bleated.
         ---She bleated all the way home!

Clearly... not all Storm Clouds rain.

Bonus: I'm happy to announce Nebulada is pregnant! I watch her belly expand with interest wondering if she'll be my first Mozambican delivery!
He he he... We'll just have to wait and see. Won't we?

Labor of Love: September 2013