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Our Vegetarian Eats Bugs

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BY GINGHER LEYENDECKER, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – There was no way I could go all the way to Africa, see giant black caterpillars for sale as food, and not try them. Yes I am a vegetarian, and have been for 17 years. No meat of any kind, no dairy. But this was Zambia, Fear Factor style. So I bought the caterpillars and asked our chef Dowdi to prepare them.

The faculty had been at Victoria Falls that day and we were about three hours late for dinner. I walked in to see a giant platter of cold greasy fried caterpillars with my name on it! I had been bragging about how I was going to eat them for two days, and there was no backing out now. So I grabbed four or five and shoved them all in my mouth—probably not the greatest idea. The taste—I can only describe as—a cold greasy pork chop with dirt in it. Yes the caterpillars are full of dirt and it was a big part of the texture. Once I ground them up in my mouth so I couldn’t tell what was a head or leg or whatever, I had to deal with the next big problem, how to swallow this black mass of bugs! It was rough going, and I thought about trying to sneak out of sight so I could spit them out—but that wouldn’t be in the spirit of trying them in the first place so I finally got them down.

I would like to say that I loved them, but alas I cannot… I think perhaps if I had gotten there while they were still hot, and was able to slather them in hot sauce, they would have been pretty good. As it was, it was more for the bragging rights than anything else!

I heard they serve fried termites like popcorn in the rural areas….

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