Monday, August 16, 2010


I can barely look at this picture, much less think about what it shows.

In case you are curious, it is called – in English – cooked worms on a stick. It’s a fairly common dish available in Belen, according to the text that accompanied the picture.

Under what circumstances would you eat a worm on a stick? I’m telling you I would only do it in a fit of self-preservation, and then I would probably have to weigh which would be the worst, dying or eating worms.

Why do I even think about this?

I understand there are plenty of people in the world who aren’t as squeamish as I am and who would eat them because they were brought up eating them. The same way some people here eat scrambled calves brains and eggs, have menudo for breakfast, or eat raw oysters, none of which I believe are actually intended to be eaten. But that’s just my opinion.

Some time ago I read an article in the newspaper about how Mexico’s centuries-old tradition of eating bugs is becoming more lucrative. Maguey worms and ant eggs are showing up as exotic fare at expensive restaurants, and researchers are trying to convince poor villagers to cash in on these pests as a means of income.

The article says that with a protein content as much as twice that of beef, bugs could also become a welcome diet supplement among the estimated 20 million extremely poor people who live on incomes of $1 per day or less.

But some people are already eating them simply because they are “Muy delicioso.” (Yuk!) The article tells about a fellow who always looks forward to harvest time in August because that’s when he can pick greenish caterpillers off the trees and boil them with a little lime. He said they taste a little like grasshoppers!

And the story ends with a note that some farmers are now planting a cheap kind of corn, which serves as a trap to catch grasshoppers, because they can get more money selling the edible grasshoppers than selling the corn.

If you were to see my face right now, you would see that I have a look showing somewhere between disgust and revulsion. I think it is probably the same look I have when I am forced to shell shrimp that I’m going to use for dinner. Our supermarkets kindly have already chopped their heads off, probably because they know that most women wouldn’t buy them if they had to deal with the head and contingent parts. But I can’t help but make a face when I have to put my fingers around those cold dead shrimp and unwrap the shells from their bodies. It’s the legs that get to me. I feel the same way about preparing calves liver -- I can eat it, but I sure don’t like handling it when it is raw.

Thank goodness no one is asking me to eat bugs or worms. With any kind of luck at all this won’t happen out of necessity in my lifetime, either. And I am trusting that my Jerry, a brave and bold eater, doesn’t ever give bugs or worms a try just for the heck of it. Lips that touch a bug will never touch mine, and I would hate to go through the rest of my life without kissing him ever again!

1 comment:

Olga said...

Worms on a stick! I'd have to be awfully hungry for that. But then, I do eat lobster and crab meat. Gotta wonder who first thought either one of those creatures would be edible. They sure look like big bugs.