Grasshoppers – Nsenene – a Ugandan Delicacy

Posted by on January 27, 2013

Ugandans love those crunchy Critters called Nsenene

Grasshoppers (actually Bush Cricket) are a Ugandan Delicacy

Nsenene-Grasshoppers-a-Ugandan-DelicacyIt is December and the rains have lingered a bit longer than normal and Nsenene (grasshoppers) are still available to the discerning shopper in Uganda – prices are up since we have had quite a few power outages in Uganda and lights are used to attract the grasshoppers  (they are actually Bush Crickets – most could not tell the difference) and with no lights – no grasshoppers – those who frequent the small pubs and bars like to snack on a few of them and wash it down with Nile, Bell, Club or Moonberg – to their dismay there is a shortage of grasshoppers and the price has increased much like everything else in Uganda

The discerning grasshopper gourmet still finds his daily fill during the rainy seasons and takes them home and yes most are still alive.  Ashes from charcoal are used to help in pulling off the wings and to keep the fingers from becoming slick – there is no slaughtering process, just pull the wings and feet- hmmm…oh well.  The first time I encountered grasshoppers was back in the early 90’s when I saw a man coming down a path I was going up, I thought he had plastic bags with French Beans in them…to my amazement they were moving grasshopper…I told him no thanks and he walked on shaking his head mumbling – Muzungu.

There are many Westerners – Muzungus – who like Nsenene – Grasshoppers – however I am not a convert to the fine art of eating crunchy critters. They are prepared in a frying pan or pot  with a little oil – they actually contain a bit themselves and then are roasted along with onions, some tomatoes at times and in a short time they are ready for consumption – they are eaten hot or cold – and you need at least a soda to flush them down (some are driven to drink something a bit stronger), I am told that they taste like crispy chicken skin – the smell of them being cooked is tolerable and not too bad.

I do not criticize Ugandans for eating them – that is their culture and tradition – I sometimes joke and say “you are eating Du Dus – insects – fortunately they have not acquired a taste for many other insects. Ugandans in the central region love their Nsenene  – it is a part of their culture and tradition and even the little ones help in plucking the wings and legs off of the grasshoppers – it becomes a family affair – after years of being in Uganda I am stilled amazed by it.

When it comes down to eating the so-called snack – in Uganda I look at what is on the plate and I always think – is this their last meal on earth – snack my foot – the plate is filled high and to the rim, and not a dessert plate but a dinner plate filled with those critters that I refuse- maybe  I should try them…but then on second thought with my straight-laced Germanic upbringing…I don’t think so…but if you are coming to visit Uganda– and it is the season of Nsenene – I will have a plate for you….from Kampala…the Nsenene capital of the world….jon

“The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate upon Uganda – The Pearl of Africa.”  Winston Churchill (My African Journey – 1908)




Jon Blanc

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