Opening a can of Mopani Worms

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Mopani worms are a favourite traditional South African snack food. But the thought of chewing on a grub leaves most of us, including many locals who haven’t yet sampled Mopani worms, cold.

We’re all about making delicious African food concepts more accessible to the public. Our GOLD Restaurant menu includes tasty Cape Malay and African-inspired cuisine. But it doesn’t include Mopani worms, larvae, or cultural shock dishes of any kind. Owner Cindy however enjoys her Mopani worms best when they are fried and served as chips.

Why Africa loves worms?

For many rural people in countries like Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, Mopani worms are a staple food. They’re nutritious, a cheap source of protein, and according to some, when properly prepared, utterly delicious. Moreover, they’re an important low-cost, low-maintenance, economic trading resource. They’re even enjoyed in restaurants as far afield as Paris.

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Not really worms at all

Plucked from Mopani or Mopane trees found in Southern Africa, Mopani worms are in fact not worms but caterpillar larvae from the Emperor Moth. African names for this delicacy are as diverse as the countries in which they’re popularly consumed. In South Africa they’re often referred to as masotsa, mashonza, masonja, or matamani.

How they’re prepared

Mopani worms are usually fried up with tomato, onion, spices or other ingredients and served hot from the pot or pan. Depending on how they’re prepared the taste is said to be similar to that of chicken. Sometimes they’re even sundried or smoked and consumed as potato crisps.

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2 thoughts on “Opening a can of Mopani Worms

  1. GOLD Restaurant staff love them too. In fact, they aren't as readily available in Cape Town as they are in other parts of South Africa or Southern African countries. As a result, Cindy (co owner of GOLD Restaurant), on her travels in Africa, is always requested to bring some dried Mopani Worms home for her team. Thanks for reading. More to come.

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