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Look at those wriggingly fresh mopani worms plucked right from a tree in the African bush. (Photograph by Marius Coetzee; Check out more of his stunning wildlife photography at: www.mariuscoetzeeafricanphotography.blogspot.com/. )

When I asked my South African friends to suggest a recipe I might share on the blog I had no idea I would have to eat worms not once, but TWICE! For some Africans mopani worms (really more like caterpillars since they turn into butterflies) are a delicacy, for others they are a common, tasty nosh, especially yummy during a night of drinking. My friend Sam told me I would love them.

Here are the worms in dehydrated form. First the gooshy centers are squeezed out, then the carcass is salted and dried. The crunchy buggers have a briney and musty taste. After the flavor dissipates, you are left with a sensation that I imagine is very similar to chewing bark.

Dried mopani worms go best with World Cup viewing and cold beer, preferably Castle.

Mopani worms are more than bar food: Sam says the most delectable way to eat them is rehydrated and flavored with tomatoes and chiles.

While rehydrating the worms in a cup of boiling water, saute onions, chiles and tomatoes in olive oil.

Let those worms plump up while the tomato mixture softens.

Add the tomato mixture to the worms and stir.

Cooked, the worms are more flavorful and meaty – the rehydration process plumps them up a lot. Still, you’ve got to love to gnaw if you go for mopani worms.

You only live once!

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