There are a few life lessons to be learned from watching The Lion King. Particularly, “grubs are slimy yet satisfying.”
Every day of my PC Namibian life is an adventure. I learn so much from the children I share a home with. They are so adventurous and fearless. But, aren’t most children?
Yesterday’s adventure led me to oshuungu from a nearby mopane tree.
In many countries, edible insects, such as grubs and caterpillars offer a source of nutrition as well as income. Dried mopane worms have 2-3x more protein than beef by weight. 100 g of dried mopane worms contain about 430 calories and 50-60 g of protein. For comparison, 100 g of cooked beef is about 290 calories and 25 g of protein. Since mopane worms feed on healthy green foliage, they contain many of the required vitamins as well as significant amounts of fat, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and other minerals.
My host siblings think it’s funny when I do things that really only children do in the village. Things such as running barefoot through puddles, hanging upside down from trees and getting excited to gather oshuungu provide pure entertainment and laughs from all.
Over the weekend, my youngest host brother, Mengela, was out playing and came home with branches filled with plump mopane worms. I begged him to take me next time. Ask and you shall receive.
On Monday, Mengela escorted me to the mopane tree where he had collected his harvest. After giving him a boost into the tree, I stood below, nervous yet excited to collect my very own mopane worms. As Mengela climbed from branch to branch, I stood to assess the tree for worms at the ground level while collecting a few (okay, one) mopane worm(s) in my reach as Mengela climbed his way up and through the tree limbs.
He climbed higher and higher, yelling, “Meme Krystal take,” and as he tossed down branches with mopane worms munching on the bright green leaves, something dawned on me.
“Mengela,” I shouted, “are there snakes in this tree?”
“No,” he responded firmly from above.
Not even a minute later, I saw slithering movement from the corner of my eye.
“Mengela, it’s a snake,” I squealed.
I watched as it dangled from a lower tree limb trying to hold on. But, it was too off balance and dropped to the ground. Once on the ground, it’s lateral undulation caused it to quickly blend into the grass below.
I ran quickly away. Everyone is safe.
Here’s a recipe for mopane worms:
After cleaning, heat oil in a pan and fry your mopane worms until their done.