WAWWUU! Do People Eat This Giant-Looking Maggot?? Read About This Witchetty Grub Eaten By Australia • illuminaija
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WAWWUU! Do People Eat This Giant-Looking Maggot?? Read About This Witchetty Grub Eaten By Australia

   
   

WAWWUU! Do People Eat This Giant-Looking Maggot?? Read About This Witchetty Grub Eaten By Australia

Part of the Australian ‘bushmeat’ family, this was another staple of Indigenous Australians in the desert. These can either be eaten raw, when it tastes like almonds, or lightly cooked, where its skin crisps like roast chicken and its insides take on the look and consistency of scrambled egg.

The thought of eating an insect may makes some people squeamish, but for many this is their main source of protein. The Australian Aboriginal communities have embraced the nation’s nature and lived off witchetty grubs for many years. We take a look at one of the most popular foods on Australia’s bush tucker menu.

What Is A Witchetty Grub?

Known as witjuri by the Adnyamathanha people from South Australia’s central desert, the witchetty grub is one of the most famous and popular from the nation’s bush tucker menu, if not a rather odd one to outsiders. Although the term ‘grub’ is defined as food, alongside the larva of certain insects, and in regards to this insect both definitions are accurate.

WAWWUU! Do People Eat This Giant-Looking Maggot?? Read About This Witchetty Grub Eaten By Australia

For many generations the larval stage of the large cossid wood moth has been chosen as a key source of protein by the Aboriginal communities. Growing up to 12cm in length, they bury themselves about 60cm below the ground feeding on the root sap of the Witchetty bush.

However, the name ‘witchetty’ is now used for any ‘fat, white, wood-boring grub’ including swift moths, longicorn beetles and other wood moths found in Australia; and are said to hold a similar taste.

   
   

Indigenous Australian Communities

Between November and January, Aboriginal women and children from many tribes would find these grubs by digging around the roots of the Witchetty bush. Historically, witchetty grubs have been a staple for Aboriginal communities, and today is still an important food and nutritious snack when living in the bush. Acting as a rich source of protein, it has been found that ’10 witchetty grubs are sufficient to provide the daily needs of an adult’.

WAWWUU! Do People Eat This Giant-Looking Maggot?? Read About This Witchetty Grub Eaten By Australia

Not only are these grubs an important food source for Aboriginal communities but they also feature in Dreamings (totemistic design or artwork) in many Aboriginal paintings. When these grubs are caught, they are said to leak ‘brown juice over fingers’ when you hold them; it is this juice that is used in Dreamings.

Preparation and Flavour

The liquid centre of a raw witchetty grub tastes like almonds. However, if the idea of a live insect crawling down your throat turns you away, witchetty grubs can also be cooked on hot ashes or barbecued. When cooked, their skin becomes crisp like a roast chicken, whilst the inside meat becomes white and chewy. Depending on your taste buds, these cooked grubs will taste either like chicken or prawns with peanut sauce. Often eaten as an appetiser, they are a quick and easy meal, rich in protein.

Other Purposes

Not only are witchetty grubs a staple food, but they also serve as one of the top Aboriginal bush medicines. By crushing the grub into a paste and spreading over injuries, burns and wounds are seen to heal more effectively.

WAWWUU! Do People Eat This Giant-Looking Maggot?? Read About This Witchetty Grub Eaten By Australia

Among freshwater fisherman, these grubs are known as bardi grubs – although the term was originally used to name the longhorn beetle in the larvae form – and considered as bait.

Witchetty grubs are the small, white larvae of the ghost moth, which is native to Australia. They are dug out of the trunks and roots of gum trees during the summertime, and although the very though of eating grubs may be frowned upon by Europeans, witchetty grubs have been an essential part of the Aboriginal diet for centuries.

Origins and history

For the Australian natives who live in the bush, a balanced diet consists of a wide variety of vegetables, roots and creatures which can be found in the wild. Known as ‘bushtucker’, the culinary traditions of the Aborigines are gaining popularity in the cities: ants, spiders, goannas, locusts, snakes, emus, kangaroos, crocodiles and yabbies are beginning to turn up on the menus of the most exclusive restaurants.

Although many may not consider grubs to be a great delicacy, for the Aborigines the swarms of flying, squirming creatures which arrive with the seasons are cause for great celebration and feasting. The ghost moth arrives in southern New South Wales between November and January, and it used to attract hoards of people from different tribes, all eager to partake of the nourishing grub. It’s usually the women and children who forage for grubs, though Aboriginal men are no less fond of the fat, fleshy creatures.

Serving suggestion

Witchetty grubs are traditionally eaten live and raw. Their meat is rich in protein and makes for a highly nutritious snack if you’re tramping through the bush. Raw witchetties have a subtle, slightly sweet flavour and a liquid centre.

   
   

WAWWUU! Do People Eat This Giant-Looking Maggot?? Read About This Witchetty Grub Eaten By Australia

Barbecued, witchetties are often eaten as an appetizer. They are cooked over a fire on pieces of wire, rather like shasliks or satays. It takes about two minutes each side for the meat to become white and chewy and the skin crusty. Barbecued witchetties taste quite like chicken or prawns with peanut sauce.

If you don’t fancy foraging for your grub, these days it is possible to buy tins of witchetty soup in supermarkets across Australia.

   
   

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