Leave the Comfort, Take the Grasshopper

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It’s officially grasshopper season.

Each night, Kinoni and the towns around Ddegeya set up large tin cans, strings of lights and enormous reflective aluminum sheets in preparation for the fluttering hoards. Side streets illuminate in order to lure the “mouth-watering” bugs. Local venues add fried grasshopper to their menus. Children scour the streets and fields for stray hoppers.

So it was only a matter of time before someone offered me this seasonal treat.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Eddie suggested that Matt and I try some grasshopper. He sautéed the bugs with onion, pepper and a little salt and put them on a small plate for each of us.

As he handed me the hoppers, I couldn’t help but notice their brownish, green exterior and beady little eyes. How plump their bodies were. How they appeared simultaneously helpless and menacing in their lifeless state.
Luckily, my Italian heritage instilled in me  a healthy sense of adventure towards new foods from a very early age (usually by means of my grandmother setting down a bowl of octopus at the Christmas fish feast and proclaiming “eat”).
So a small grasshopper—I could do this. A small wriggly grasshopper with six legs and two eyes and antennae. A creature that was alive a mere two seconds ago. No problem.
I shut my eyes, plopped it in my mouth and gulped. And chewed and swallowed and gulped some more.
Not bad. Actually quite tasty. Crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. Like a protein-packed French fry or chicken nugget…

*****

I’m not exaggerating when I say I could now shovel a handful of grasshoppers into my mouth without hesitation. They are the perfect midafternoon snack.
But I could barely stomach the idea at first. I was uncomfortable and uncertain. And, yet, pleasantly surprised when I actually did it.
All of this has prompted me to put an African spin on the classic Godfather mantra, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

Instead, I propose, “Leave the comfort, take the grasshopper.”
“Leave the comfort, take the grasshopper” means accepting the fact that things here rarely go my way. I am frequently uncomfortable and awkward. I look like a fool in the clinic. I struggle to come up with the proper Luganda phrases. I have ideas that seldom come to fruition. There are weeks when showers are few and far between…
And yet, it’s often when I put myself out there—when I take the grasshopper— that I am the most satisfied. It’s when I let go of these expectations I have so forcefully clung to and embark on new experiences, that I find I actually move forward. So cast away the comfort, and reach for a hopper. It’s just a bug.

*Shout out to fellow Minerva fellow, Andrew Fellows,(that’s a lot of fellows) whose fellowship in Ghana actually centers around entomaphagy- the act of eating insects https://sway.com/LxRckoEVbG68LWxx

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