Growing up in Southern Africa, Mopane Worms were easily available. I always made a face whenever I went by street vendors that were selling them by the cups and was disgusted when I saw my brother munch on them like they were ummm….chicken. I remember telling my mother that I would rather starve than eat such creepy, crawly creatures. Well, that was before I tried them!
A few years ago I went back home and my brother offered me a bit of what was on his plate….sadza (a cornmeal mush aka ugali/nshima/pap/isitshwala etc) and madora/macimbi (mopane worms) sauteed in onions and tomatoes. My initial response was to make that ugly face that I so often had made. However, after constant urging from my brother, I caved in and took a small bite of this traditional “delicacy.” It was crunchy, salty….. and…..I actually liked it.
A few months ago, I sat down to review the nutritional content of this “delicacy” and was pleasantly surprised. Ounce for ounce, it contains more protein than roasted chicken breast. The nutritional comparison is listed below:
Mopane Worms* Chicken Breast
Calories 124 35
Protein 17 g 7g
Fat 4.38 g 1.39g
Carbohydrate 0.84 g 0 g
Fiber 3.12 g 0 g
* Based on 30 g ( 1 ounce) portion
Feeling disgusted?? Don’t knock it till you try it….you too may be pleasantly surprised.
Mopane Worms Facts Source: Medical Research Council of South Africa. Food Composition Tables.