Have you ever eaten … worms? They say they are not much different from some delicious sea food you find in the best western restaurants, but how many brave ones have really tried and saw if that was true? If you are a traveler – and a real one! – you know you must be ready to see and taste anything in the world. So maybe you already know that, in Zambia, you will eat caterpillars!  Whether you call them “Mopane worms” or “ifinkubala” … there they are. Caterpillars are worms, and some of the “ugliest” in nature. How can you eat them? Well, if they are delicious you can.

Caterpillars and how to cook them

Zambian caterpillars belong to many species. The one they use for their best recipes is the Imbrassia Belina worm, the caterpillar of the Emperor Moth, that lives and grows on the Mopane tree. You can find many of them in the bush, along the rivers and in the forest, especially during the rain season. But you find them also in towns. This is why this worm is everywhere … and since it is also a typical local food it must be delicious, too. In order to cook these caterpillars they must be dried, first, so they can sell them for days at the local market, in the open air.

Once you decide you want to have a “nice dish of caterpillars” you shall first boil the worms, then fry them in a pan with tomatoes (or other local vegetables), onions, garlic and spices.  Another recipe they especially love, in Zambia, is smoked caterpillars. They are the most important part of buffets and may be served with the main dishes of many restaurants. Not only in the small towns of the inner regions but also in the most important cities!

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taste them in the villages near Victoria Falls

Why eat caterpillars?

Why do Zambians eat caterpillars if they can choose among the most delicious vegetables and meats in Africa? They do not eat “just” caterpillars. These worms are a sort of addition, completion of other important recipes. Or they are the favourite “snack”. In old times, when the people had to struggle in the bush for weeks with nothing else to eat, caterpillars – fat, juicy, rich in proteins – were like bread. Even better than bread. The memory of those experiences is now in the taste of modern people. And … why shall we be surprised if they eat worms when we eat shrimps, basically a sort of “sea cockroaches”?

Where to eat the best caterpillars in Zambia

Now that you have decided to taste the delicious local food caterpillars, maybe you want to be sure of the quality. Where can you find the best caterpillar recipes in Zambia? In the capital city, Lusaka, you can find the best caterpillars recipes almost everywhere. So is in Livingstone and other tourist places, as towns and villages next to the Victoria Falls.

Ku-Matebeto, Chuma Grill-Bar, Musukuin Lusaka are the best restaurants for this kind of food. In Livingstone too, you can have some of the best caterpillar dishes: Cafe Zambesi and Zest Bar just to name some.

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taste the Mopane caterpillars