Sunday, December 5, 2010

One Man's Plague Is Another Man's Lunch (Localvores/Foodies/Foragers)



In the book of Exodus the Lord sent a plague of locusts as a punishment to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for refusing to release the Israelites from the bonds of slavery. It was rough for the Egyptians and Pharaoh almost relented. But one man's plague is another man's lunch here in Zambia. Personally, I would live on milk and cereal if I could. Too bad a box of Cheerios is $9 and a gallon of milk is in the $5 range. Other recent sticker shock moments: a jar of Hellman's (Best Foods) mayo for $12, a pound of walnuts for $26, a medium cantaloupe for $10. So if we want to stick to our modest missionary budget, we need to eat like the locals do. Usually this means eating lots of fruits and vegetables and eating nshima a few times a week. But being interested in local food and foraging I jumped at the chance to try some grasshoppers when they descended en masse on our plot.

Zambians know how to eat local - during the rainy season they have all kinds of foraged greens (ndiwo za masamba) and free protein. Much like the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert, the locusts showed up early in the morning, and by 8am they had disappeared. Except for the 50-60 that Lucas and I caught in a tupperware. The guards and builders that live on our plot were excited to see the noisy tub of bugs trying to escape from their upcoming lunch date. So they invited me over for lunch and we squatted around a hot pot of nshima and plates of kapenta (dried whole minnows cooked in tomato and onion) and fried sontwa (grasshoppers). Now as for taste, they're not too exciting, pretty bland with plenty of crunch (the heads and exoskeletons and pretty tough), and little squishy around the middle.

Really, they don't taste like much, but picking out the various legs and wings is time consuming and a little disturbing. More disturbing is looking at their creepy faces and eyes looking at you as you pop 'em in your mouth. Needless to say I had a pretty serious case of indigestion and while I appreciate being to pick your food off your walls I think next time, I'll just let the Israelites free or something like that.

3 comments:

Derek and Kristin Dearth said...

I "got" to eat shonkonona (Bemba for grasshoppers???) twice. Once was at a friend's house when she pulled a huge bag out of the FREEZER and then popped 'em in a skillet. They weren't so good.

The other time, Gina and I caught them fresh and pulled off their legs, wings, and heads and just left their bodies (it was a sinch...I just let Gina do all the work). Then we put them in the skillet without oil but sprinkled a little garlic salt on. Those were much better!

Although, I can't say as I'd like to eat them for a whole meal...and along with kapenta? Wow - what a choice! :)

audwolf said...

I'm glad you tried them but I don't think I would have :)

teamchauncey said...

Way to pull a "John the Baptist", I hope that wild honey and wearing camels' hair is next on your list.