Airdate: Apr 12, 1999
Scientist: Faith D'Alusio
A group of women in Botswana offer a lesson in termite cuisine.
EDIBLE INSECTS - Termitesmusic; ambience: Termite harvesting, harvesters What we like or don't like to eat is determined in part by our culture. For example, what would you say to a lunch of termites, fried in oil and served with a bit of tomato? I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Faith D'Alusio is co-author of the book Man Eating Bugs, a book which looks at the different cultures around the world where insects form an important part of the diet. She tells us about a lunch of fried termites which she shared with a group of women in South Africa."They wanted to show us the hunting of the termites. So they got these reeds from down by the river. And they would strip the leaves and they would stick it down in the holes of this giant termite mound, pull it back out and wipe the termites into these bowls that they had. So after we finished, we had this really giant bowl of these little red termites that were crawling all over each other and they were very squirmy. And I'm thinking, 'I'll have to eat these.' So we trooped over to the fire and they started the fire and it was this big production. They put a little oil in the pan and washed these termites. And then they dumped the water out and then they fried the termites up. Put the tomato in there and we ate it with porridge. And we had a great conversation up until the time I told them we had eaten scorpions and they were disgusted. Totally disgusted. And it was a pivotal experience for me to have them disgusted with us for having eaten something in another country when there are so many people in this country who would be disgusted with us because we ate termites." Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.