Not just an­other can of worms

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Leisure -

some lip stuff when­everen­ever their lipss get dry yet if theyy owned some chicc bag – lip balm andd what­ever else theyy need could go in there.

Maybe I’m rant­ingnt­ing and you thinknk I’m crazy to thinknk you need a bag.g.

But think about all thoseose things you’ve hadd to leave at home be­cause­cause you couldn’t walklk around town car­ry­in­gry­ing them in your hands.nds.

Iff you owned a bag, thoseose head­phones youu love so much coul­duld be eas­ily slid in HUR­RAH, they are here! My favourite dish has crawled back onto my plate af­ter a long ab­sence! In spite of my re­li­gious lean­ings that frown upon the con­sump­tion of the ‘in­sects,’ I had a fried plate last night.

I am look­ing for­ward to the cooked ver­sion of creepy crawlies to­mor­row! If you feel like puk­ing, then stop read­ing now.

My crav­ing is bet­ter than for those who choose to feast on crab, snail (or is it es­car­got?) horse, snake, in­sect, frog, grub, lizard, rat, bat, cat, dog, grasshop­per, oc­to­pus, tor­toise, seal, lob­ster, prawns, eel, or mon­key.

For me it’s worms. The cater­pil­lars of the anoma­lous em­peror moth Im­brasi­a­belina, mopane worms are a culi­nary sensation here in Zim­babwe and the rest of Cen­tral and South­ern Africa.

They are named af­ter the mopane, a tree that is com­mon in semi-arid ar­eas whose big clover-like leaves are what the worms feast on dur­ing their meta­mor­pho­sis.

For the poverty stricken peo­ple of the re­gion, the mopane worm, or amacimbi in the lo­cal lan­guage, is manna from heaven.

The guts are re­moved through squeez­ing and the worms are then boiled and left for a day to dry out in the sun. Once dried, they can be used at any time for cook­ing and the re­sult is a juicy and salty treat.

The mopane worm has all but re­placed tra­di­tional agri­cul­tural pro­duce as a source of nu­tri­tion and in­come.

From the on­set of the rain sea­son, when the mopane forms its tell-tale leaves, the worms emerge from their co­coons and crawl down the tree. So do worm gath­er­ers from all cor­ners for the har­vest.

The worm catch­ing is in it­self a spec­ta­cle to be­hold. Scores of peo­ple fan across the sparse bushes, car­ry­ing con­tain­ers of ev­ery con­ceiv­able shape and size, fill­ing them to the brim with na­ture’s bounty.

The worms are a del­i­cacy mainly among the black pop­u­la­tion. Con­nois­seurs say that there are more than 20 ways to pre­pare the mopane worm dishes.

Take them fried as a snack, cooked with toma­toes there. You may nonot need a man bag ev­ery other day but think about the times when you’re trav­el­ling. Surely, you can’t have your hand lug­gage all jum­bled up,up your hands can’t han­dle the ex­cess. You could sim­ply slide in the bag your news­pa­per, bbook, pass­port, iPad or any other gadge­gad­get you might need dur­ing the jour­ney. Car­ry­ing a satchel is so 1990s; it won’t work es­pe­spe­cially if you’re pulling off some sleesleek out­fit. Imag­ineI­ma­gin wear­ing those Steve Mad­den kicks and a blazer then strap on a satchel­satch to your back. No man,ma you can do bet­ter than that! With a man bag, you’ll be glad to have that ex­tra charg­ing ca­ble stowed­sto when your phone’s bat­teryb life is less than 10 per­cent. You can even af­ford to move around with your battery pack. We all know how im­por­tant it is to keep your battery alive when you’re on the go. Chapped lips could be a prob­lemp for you, keep a tube of lip balm within reach for in­stant mois­ture re­lief. Tis­sues are jusjust plain con­ve­nient to have on you – never mmore so than when you feel a sneeze com­ing on. While you’re at it, it can’t hurt to have a pack­age or two of pep­per­mint sweets or gum. Trust me; she wowon’t want to kiss you with that smelly breath of yoy­ours! Feed­back from­fro “Never trust a man with bad shoes” and onions, boiled or sim­ply dried (See recipes be­low). One en­ter­pris­ing en­tre­pre­neur has even con­tem­plated canning them.

Which­ever way they are pre­pared, health ex­perts wax lyri­cal about the di­etary ad­van­tages of mopane worms. They con­tain more pro­tein and roughage than or­di­nary oats. Posters at health cen­tres in the ru­ral ar­eas rec­om­mend the worms as a sup­ple­ment for preg­nant women and those liv­ing with HIV.

There are those among us who would only eat mopane worms at gun­point. The rea­son is purely psy­cho­log­i­cal. Ad­mit­tedly, it takes one quite some time to ac­quire the taste.

One just has to get over the ini­tial pho­bia that as­so­ci­ates the worms with other creepy-crawlies, ex­perts say. In some cases, this is blamed on adults who dis­cour­aged their chil­dren from eat­ing the worms at an early age. This is in spite of the fact that the adults them­selves grew up on a diet of worms.

The ed­i­ble worms are just ir­re­sistible in a con­ti­nent where hunger and famine stalks the land. Their re­spect knows no bor­ders. They can be found grac­ing the din­ner ta­bles of many house­holds in South Africa, Zam­bia, Namibia, Botswana and Mozam­bique.

In the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo (DRC) de­mand is out­strip­ping sup­ply with a kilo­gram fetch­ing as much as US$5.

How­ever, there are parts of the con­ti­nent where the worms are, let’s say, de­spised. Dur­ing a trip to Uganda in 1994, I at­tracted strange looks from my hosts when I tried to con­vince them that there was ab­so­lutely noth­ing wrong with hav­ing mopane worms for din­ner.

A glossy mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle that I pre­sented as ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing graphic colour pho­to­graphs, only made things worse.

In freez­ing Swe­den, Scan­di­na­vian hosts could hardly dis­guise their shock when their Zim­bab­wean guests at­tempted to al­lay their fears de­scrib­ing in graphic de­tail how good the grubs tasted. What else be­sides th­ese aw­ful things did th­ese peo­ple eat, they won­dered.

Read your ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Never trust a man with bad shoes”, that was hi­lar­i­ous, you had some points but I don’t think that sums up a man. Here’s what I think, in terms of groom­ing, they prob­a­bly lack but in other ar­eas they can be the man of your dreams only if you look past the shoes. But you are right though, guys should start groom­ing them­selves not just for the ladies but to also feel good about them­selves, you don’t have to be a mil­lion­aire to do this. It was a cool ar­ti­cle, tonnes of hu­mour, guys should take notes – they can learn a thing or two. Keep up the good work. — Tafadzwa

Un­til next week, flaunt your pat­tern and style and don’t for­get to catch up with me on Twit­ter han­dle @Yolis­swa, visit my blog, www. stay­era247.blogspot.com or like my Face­book page Pat­tern & Style — @Yolis­swa.

Back in Zim­babwe, hun­dreds of peo­ple flock to the south­ern re­gions from all cor­ners to get a piece of the ac­tion. Pre­dictably, politi­cians have also waded into the fray.

Here, any­thing that smells of money at­tracts politi­cians like flies to a car­cass. Govern­ment of­fi­cials com­plain about the ex­ploita­tion of poor ru­ral vil­lagers by un­scrupu­lous traders who peg the price at US$15 for a 20-litre bucket. The go­ing mar­ket rate is US$5 a kilo­gram in the DRC.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in ar­eas where mopane worms are har­vested have been vig­or­ously cam­paign­ing for a ban on ‘out­siders’ cash­ing in on what is re­garded by them as an ex­clu­sive re­source.

The is­sue has turned po­lit­i­cal and emo­tions run high at har­vest time when scuf­fles break out be­tween vil­lagers and traders from the city. In Botswana, landown­ers charge the gath­er­ers a fee for both camp­ing on their prop­erty and har­vest­ing.

Th­ese traders are some­times ac­cused of show­ing lit­tle re­spect for lo­cal cus­toms and in turn, the en­vi­ron­ment. They need­lessly chop down trees and des­e­crate sa­cred tra­di­tional shrines.

At least one lo­cal au­thor­ity is is­su­ing li­cences to ap­proved traders while oth­ers in­sist on the lo­cals do­ing the pick­ing them­selves and later sell­ing the worms at set prices.

Un­for­tu­nately, at the height of the worm-pick­ing sea­son, poor and des­per­ate vil­lagers ac­cept any­thing they are of­fered in re­turn, from bags of maize meal, cups and plates to items of cloth­ing in ex­change for buck­ets of the worms.

This has made them easy pick­ing for un­scrupu­lous buy­ers who are out to make a quick and easy buck.

Mopane worms are the sal­va­tion to an eco­nom­i­cally de­pressed and poverty stricken re­gion. For a con­ti­nent al­ways reach­ing out its hand for as­sis­tance, the worms of­fer an op­por­tu­nity for its peo­ple to im­prove their wretched lives. And they are not go­ing to let any out­sider take away their God given right. RECIPES Mopane Worm Stew Ingredients: Dried mopane worms, Tomato (sliced), Onions (chopped), but­ter or cook­ing oil, chilli sauce (to taste,) salt, pep­per and gar­lic salt to taste Method: Prepa­ra­tion Soak mopane worms in water un­til soft Fry onions in but­ter or cook­ing oil Add rest of ingredients and cook over low heat un­til ten­der Serve with isitshwala or sadza (pap or maize meal) Method 2 Ingredients 1 cup of dried mopane worms, 1 onion, chopped, 2 green pep­pers, sliced, 6 toma­toes, diced, 1 ta­ble­spoon curry pow­der, and ½ litre water. Prepa­ra­tion Wash the worms and boil them for 30 min­utes. Drain, then add the rest of the ingredients and sim­mer for about an hour.

Mopane worms can also be soaked then fried to a crispy TV snack. Yum, yum, yum!

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