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. Its usually the women and children
who forage for grubs, though Aboriginal men are no less fond
of the fat, fleshy creatures.
Witchetty grubs are traditionally eaten live and raw. Their
meat is rich in protein and makes for a highly nutritious
snack if youre tramping through the bush. Raw witchetties
have a subtle, slightly sweet flavour and a liquid centre.
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 dont fancy foraging for your grub, these days
it is possible to buy tins of witchetty soup in supermarkets