Eating Worms in the 19th. Century

The eating of worms and other ‘unorthodox’ animal food was generally considered by colonial explorers as indicative of  hunger.  Sometimes this was the case, but many bugs were (and still are) considered tasty snacks.  I already talked about ants and other insect delicacies here.

Fried locust were - and still are - popular snacks as well as hunger foods in the Sahel. Source: Jackson

The following narrative by Lyon describes the preparation of a species of worm in N.W. Africa (area of Morocco)  that lives in water, and the consumption of which is apparently linked to poverty of the people who make the dish, though non-poor also eat it (including Lyon):.

Lyon-Narrative of Travels N.Africa, Sudan, Niger 1818-20

… The people in the Wadeys are blacks and mulattoes as in Morzouk, and Arabs live amongst them. The villages contain from thirty to two hundred houses; many, however, are composed of palm huts. The people are very poor, but in the time of the Waled Suleman, who resided much amongst them, they were opulent.

In some of the pools of stagnant water in the Wadey Shaiti are found small worms, of about the size of a grain of rice; these are collected in great quantities, and pounded with a little salt in a mortar, until they form a black paste, which is made into balls of about the size of the double fist, and then suffered to dry in the sun.

These worms, which are called Dood [this means worm in Arabic – Diana], form one of the very few luxuries of Fezzan, as the poor people, when they have a mess of flour, mix some of them with the sauce, to their Aseeda [stiff porridge made of any local grain – Diana].

They resemble very bad caviar in taste, and the smell is extremely offensive; but habit and necessity overcome all prejudices in this country, and I soon became very partial to them. Sand is an unavoidable ingredient in this paste, and the natives consider it as more wholesome in consequence.

One or two families gain a good subsistence by preparing these worms for the market of Morzouk, and the neighboring towns.

This snack, found in N.W. Africa, is also mentioned by James Richardson in : Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Vol. 1


About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Africa-General, Colonialism, Cuisine, Explorers & exploration, Food, Indigenous crops & medicinal plants, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Eating Worms in the 19th. Century

  1. Pingback: A Relish of Caviar-type Worms in The Sahara 1819 « Dianabuja's Blog

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