Mateu, a Namibian friend introduced to us by one of our co-workers, so graciously invited all of us Canadians over to his aunt’s house for a traditional Owambo meal with their family. So, one Saturday evening we were picked up by Mateu and his brothers, Robert and Shafa, and driven to the dinner. We were greeted warmly by Helena (their aunt), some women of the family (Happy and Queen), Junior (Mateu’s little brother), and baby Tuli. Helena was dressed in her traditional Owambo dress. She looked beautiful!
We were served some mahango pap, a traditional spinach dish, chicken, goat, a traditional sausage, wine, champagne, and…. fried MOPANE WORMS! I unfortunately lost most of the photos I took from this evening, but please, Google image mopane worms. Everyone politely helped themselves but I was last in line for food and at that point, Mateu had started serving. Lucky for me, mopane worms are one of Mateu’s favourite dishes and he therefore figured I’d really like them too! With that in mind, he put not one on my plate, but a nice heaping scoopful! On the count of three, I started eating them. I was surprised at how chewy they were: each worm required I would say…. 12-15 chews. However, I was really relieved that you couldn’t feel any legs or what have you in your mouth. Amber managed to get half of one down. It was a struggle. The other girls managed on theirs as well. I pawned off as many as was polite to Mateu’s family members who really like them, but was still left with about 10 worms x 12-15 chews. So, I ate them. I had this silent chant going on in my head: “high in protein, high in protein, high in protein, high in protein…” and that’s what I attribute my being able to clean my plate. Being the pickiest meat eater in the house, it was a surprise to us all (myself included!) that I was able to put them in my mouth, let alone finish. I guarantee that my family (especially Mom and Emily) and my friend Rosa (together we took part in the Mitsubishi City Chase last summer in Toronto and I failed miserably at a spider-touching and worm-eating challenge) will be equally surprised!
Above: Shafa serving the meal with Queen laughing in the background.
Below: Us about to tuck into the meal. Note the pile of mopane worms on my plate! (The dark brown section of the plate).
Following dinner, the music was turned on and a dance party began! Where Amber lacked on the mopane worm eating at dinner, she more than made up for on the dance floor by DOING the worm! Atta girl, Amber! We were taught some Namibian-style dancing and had a great time laughing and dancing and following along.
Thank you so much to Helena and family for welcoming us into your home and treating us to a lovely Namibian evening!
Here is a picture of Helena with Robert (in the red), Shafa, and little Tuli: