The November rain can make the city muddy and dreadful, so what a consolation that it is that November also comes with grasshoppers! Just stand on any busy street and you will see them.
Even though I was expecting this to happen, I knew it would happen, it was still exciting to open the window and see the sky littered with the little green delicacies. People have tried to package grasshoppers and make them available all year round but they will never be as fresh. And even if they were, that would leave us with nothing to look forward to in November, called Musenene in Luganda after the grasshoppers.
Like ground nuts and other small ready to eat snacks on the streets, the buyer is allowed a taste, “jaribu”, to assess the quality of the merchandise before the purchase. It also gives you an out before committing to what might not be a tasty batch. This is a good thing because grasshoppers have become very expensive – a pack of 1000shs fit comfortably in a child’s hand.
The Jaribu is about 2 or 3 grasshoppers. It seems small but it is enough. You will often find tasty grasshoppers in Uganda and the jaribu is really just an excuse to eat more. Also, you do not need to eat so many grasshoppers, if you do, they will make your stomach hurt…but that might be a myth like in the olden days when they said it was taboo for women to eat the protein-rich insects.
The sights and sounds of other people eating grasshoppers consist of satisfied grunts and antennae sticking out of their mouths as they chew and nod their heads. If this stands in the way of you enjoying your snack (it doesn’t for me), then take the grasshoppers home. There you can add all the onions you want and munch, away from prying eyes.
You also have the option to carry the raw ones home and fry them yourself – it’s cheaper. The genuine taste of street food is impossible to replicate at home-that is why a rolex will never taste as good in your clean kitchen as it does off the greasy, dusty road so lower your expectations. That is step 1, step 2 is frying.
To prepare, wash, pop them in the pan and add salt. That is it. Onions, green pepper and chilli can also be added. They don’t adulterate the grasshopper taste, they just add another layer of flavour.
And how do you know they are ready? Besides the change of colour from green to brown/yellow, there is a little, just a little craft to knowing (if you don’t have it, just taste as you go along). Despite having eaten grasshoppers for years, I still cannot describe the taste. It is something everyone needs to experience for themselves.
If you’re still a nsenene virgin, consider taking the leap, December is winding down.
Article Written by Anne Kirya
Anne Kirya is a Ugandan writer and storyteller. She started out as a journalist before working as a copywriter and freelance writer. She is passionate about telling stories for different mediums as is the case with her web series and currently her food blog For food’s sake eat, which only features good food stories.
Even in writing about food, Kirya is inspired by the unique way people observe their realities. How her niece observed hers is the inspiration for her upcoming Children’s book, The incredible adventures of Kakai.
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