Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Caterpillars?


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?  
             ---Yum!