Perhaps. Then again perhaps not… Either way i feel very fortunate to be funded to do this for research purposes: Travelling from town to town through the beautiful southern African countryside, searching every marketplace for caterpillar salespersons, and asking them about their wares. Almost without exception I'm greeted with smiles and laughter (I think due to a mixture of surprise and ridicule … in a good way), as people tell me to try before I buy and explain how I should cook them.
In just three days touring the caterpillar markets of Limpopo on public transport, I've counted at least 31 hours spent in minibuses looking at the ever changing South African landscape passing by (often to some great music - but my favourite remains this reggae cover of a country classic: ). The photo above shows just how changeable it is, with bright sunshine one minute and a sudden thunderstorm the next (sort of like home…)
Here are a couple of examples of the scenes I came across along the way:
And here is a simple but delicious recipe, cooked by Sophie (who works for Koos and Lucia, the couple whom I must thank for giving me a really lovely and welcoming place to come home to after each day of travelling)
Ingredients: Dried caterpillars, chopped tomatoes and onions, cooking oil, salt
1) Put the caterpillars in boiling water to reconstitute and leave for five minutes..
2) Drain the caterpillars and empty into another container; wash the saucepan with cold water; this should get rid of any dirt that came with the caterpillars.
3) Return the caterpillars to the clean saucepan, cover with boiling water and add the tomatoes, onion, salt (generous) and a splash of cooking oil. Leave this to boil for about 20 minutes.
４) When the caterpillars are soft and most of the water reduced (photo, left), they're ready to eat.