“Geneva come to the water spout. I want to show you something?”
What Mama Benny wants me to see is the two enormous buckets of the same insects I just got rid of that she and the librarian have gathered up in the girl's dormitory and are washing the wings off of. Ah yes... I had forgotten that the mating/flying stage of the termite life cycle (arguably the grossest stage) is a delicacy in Tanzanian cuisine. The occasional days when they all spring forth from the damp earth like a zombie hoard are almost holidays. Neither Mama Benny or the librarian do much work and even my grading is periodically interrupted when I am called to the school kitchen (a shack where the school lunches are prepared in pots the size of small hot tubs) to look at something particularly interesting. Maybe its just that Christmas is looming.
The strangest thing about the day, except for the half pound of bugs in a frying pan, is how I behaved like a tourist in my own village. I squirmed, giggled and finally went to get my camera to document the cooking. I made five or six tentative gestures to my mouth with the first one before finally popping it in (Simon, watching me do this, remarks “Madam you are funny!” and Elisius shouts out “Don't eat them Madam! They are bugs!” before breaking into laughter).
The second strangest thing is how delicious termites actually are. They are nice and fatty (you don't even need to add any oil to the pot to cook them), the perfect size for snacking and they have a nice crunch but it's the flavor that really make them. Not exactly spicy but there is a definite zest to them: the closest thing I can think of is puffed pork cracklin's. I think they could catch on.