Actually, the Mopane [or Mopani] is a caterpillar, not a worm, the larvae of the Emperor Moth. It didn't look like the one in the photo, but no matter how you cook, you can still see what it is.
THE QUESTION IS … WHY?
Why not? I draw inspiration for my novels from my world travels. While I never know what information I'm going to need in the next novel, I've learned to pay better attention to the details that can't be researched. When I travel, I look for unique locations, attitudes, and customs which result in a story that couldn't happen anywhere else and be the same story. And I take advantage of new experiences and strange food.
Besides, Africans eat many types of insects [at least 40 types are traditional foods], but the most widespread and popular is the Mopani worm. It is considered healthy because of the crude protein content of 61% [three times the protein found in beef], plus they have crude fat of 17% and 11% of mineral content, on a dry matter basis. The worms are cheap and the main source of protein for much of the population of southern Africa. In some places they are considered a delicacy; in others, bush food. Still, yuck!
THE BOMA RESTAURANT
The momentous worm-eating event took place in 2008 at the well-know Boma restaurant, a class tourist venue near the Victoria Safari lodge in Zimbabwe. One visitor described it as an "over the top, traditional dining experience that is nothing short of memorable and exciting" and another "an out-of-body experience." The buffet is huge, with such dishes as grilled warthogs [tastes like good pork], kudu and impala stews, vegetarian dishes and, of course, the worm.
Diners are dressed in chitenges and invited to take part in a hand washing ceremony. The entertainment includes Amakwezi traditional dancers and singers, a local story teller, face painting, a Sangoma (a witchdoctor/fortune teller), and drummers. It's very interactive entertainment.
▼ Some of my photos didn’t come out well because of the lighting in parts of the restaurant.
WHAT DO MOPANI WORMS TASTE LIKE?
Do you really want to know? I remember the one I ate [and I do mean "one"] as being kind of crunchy, but I think I gulped it down without tasting it.
One blogger who ate hers at the Boma in a stew, puts it this way. "The initial taste of the Mopane worm wasn't so bad, hidden by the garlic and onions. But as I continued to chew, the real flavor became unmasked and I detected a blend of earth, salt and drywall. It wasn't very good." Others say they taste like leaves. Still another person described them as having the flavor and texture of gritty prawns. I guess it depends on how you cook them.
These photos courtesy of Trip Advisor Except for MY worm
My traveling companion, Shirley Wilder, and I stayed at the Victoria Fall Safari Lodge. Without describing the architecture, our room opened onto an covered but open walkway. Beyond, a landscaped hillside sloped upward.
We had been invaded. Neither of us wanted to go past it to the bathroom, so we waited for it to move.