Friday, October 19, 2007

Eatin’ Bugs

Mmm, termites!

In March, I went to visit Maurice, the parish cook, at his family’s home, in the nearby village of Shitoli. While I was there I had the chance to try a Kenyan delicacy: live termites. As Maurice took me on the path from his family’s compound, we came along a group of children sitting in a circle out in the field. They were drumming with sticks on small flat stones as they sat on the ground. At first, I thought they were playing music, but I was wrong. Maurice explained that the children were drumming on stones over holes in the soil to make the termites come out. The termites, who live under ground, think that the drumming is the sound of rain drops falling on the stones. When they come to the surface for water they’re caught and eaten or collected to sell in the market.

Termites: A Kenyan delicacy!

What they call termites in Kenya aren’t the same wood-eating insects that we have back in the States. The termites in Kenya are about the size of ants and have two sets of long rounded wings. They can be found almost everywhere and sometimes I can find one or two of them flying around in my bedroom at night or even on my front doorstep in the early morning.

Termites coming to the surface for water

Termites are usually eaten in two ways, live or fried. While fried termites with ugali and greens sounds better to me, some Kenyans say that they are sweeter when eaten “fresh,” meaning live. And so I, wanting to get the most out of my Kenyan experience, ate two of them live.

Children catching termites to eat and sell

I have to say that there really wasn’t much taste to them. They were very dry and bland and so small that I could hardly taste anything before swallowing. Why anyone would eat termites is beyond me?!?


Anonymous said...


I didn't know you would be in the Kenyan version of "Fear Factor"!

Just Kidding!

tim said...

Actually it's interesting, the American "Fear Factor" show wouldn't really work in Kenya because they don't have the same fears. A reality game show about eating bugs would be too "normal" to be fearful or be entertaining to Kenyans. Now eating something like pizza or hamburgers, that might produce some fear in them!

Tim C.

Anonymous said...

I find this piece of eating bugs misleading. I have lived in Kenya for 28 years and only a very small population in the western province consider termites to be delicacies. Just ask the average Kenya about eating termites and they'll tell you they know no one does that

tim said...


This blog is intended for the purpose of keeping track of my thoughts and experiences while on this journey...not anyone else's. This experience of eating termites was true and it happened in Western Province. I have pictures to prove it! If you go to the market in Kakamega you can buy termites by the can on any day of the week. Nearly, all of the people I work with at the St. Julie Centre like to eat termites. I find that you have lived in Kenya for 28 years misleading!

Tim C.

Anonymous said...

Termites - an a taste you acquire. A delicacy indeed!