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Don't even think about eating the wings

by Gregory Kane  
11/10/2008 / Missions

My nine-year-old tells me there is a difference between gross and gruesome. Gross is a prophet of God dismembering locusts to put into his sandwiches. Gruesome is the Baptist losing his head to satisfy the cravings of a lecherous old king.

We recently gave our nine-year-old a cookery lesson in the preparation of a local Mozambican delicacy. Known as flying ants, these winged arthropods swarm following heavy rains, gravitating towards any strong light source and littering the ground with a hoary blanket of shed gossamer wings. Woe betide the careless homeowner who leaves a window open after the rains. A biological blizzard will blow through his house and drive away any thought of rest or relaxation.

The solution to said home invasion is also the starting point for our nine-year-old's cookery lesson. Step one: place a lighted candle in a bowl of water, leave it in the middle of the room, extinguish all other sources of illumination and shut the door firmly behind you. Some twenty minutes later you will find that your bowl is now filled with a tasty collection of scorched, drowned flying ants.

The impatient connoisseur may find himself with an upset stomach. The bodies must first be fried in hot oil and then left in the sun to dry out completely. Thereafter they should be carefully thrown into the air, a winnowing process to separate off the wings. A little salt may be added and, if this is to your particular taste, a sprinkling of chilli powder. Thereafter the crisp little bodies can be popped in the mouth and swallowed whole.

Personally speaking, I quite like them. The ant's carcass looks truly monstrous, like something that has escaped from a Sigourney Weaver blockbuster, and it still takes quite an effort to persuade reluctant fingers to convey the supposed treat in the direction of my tonsils. But they taste fine, chewy, slightly fishy, yet surprisingly palatable. My nine-year-old is not as effusive. He said, and I quote, "Their abdomen and thorax were full of a very squishy white substance, which made them taste horrible. I only enjoyed the heads. My dad caught me lying on my bed, reading a Snoopy book, with four headless flying ants beside me."

Flying ants are very much the local delicacy. We have seen local people on bicycles, balancing plastic bags stuffed full of bugs, wending their way home, looking forward to a meal rich in protein. But be warned: should you be disinclined to avail yourself of this 'manna from Heaven,' you will pay the same penalty as those Hebrews in the wilderness. If left unharvested, the bodies rot on the damp ground, permeating the area for days on end with the stink of decomposing fish.

So definitely gross. I wonder what recipe John the Baptist followed?

Gregory Kane is a missionary from the UK who ministers in Mozambique, Africa. He can be contacted through his web site at

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