Tuesday, 17 July 2012

How to eat fried worms

Another reason to love the rain! A boon to the humble but extremely useful worm. There was I must admit, a rather depressing news article yesterday about what the weather has been doing to local wildlife. It's not been good news for fledgling birds or baby bats or butterflies and bees at all alas. BUT worms are amongst the weather winners, as well as- hurray!- the slugs and snails (including the new encroaching Spanish Super Slug able to lay 4 times as many eggs as the weedy indigenous English sort apparently).

Shouting hurray for slugs is pushing me to the max but I'm trying: The walk to school has been enlivened by playing dodge the moving gastropod and examining the innards of exploded ones that others didn't dodge. A friend counted 50 slugs on the go on her own 750 metre journey. Impressive. Plus I get the always delightful company of Bill for longer as he now refuses to take his separate short cut through a tunnel where slugs gather in great huddles on the wall 'in case they get me'.

I confess I used to feel the same way about worms. Which just might have something to do with the lasting psychological scars inflicted by my big brothers who used to build worm traps and lure me to fall into them. Meanies. But I am stronger now and it I like to think that reading 'How to Eat Fried Worms' by Thomas Rockwell some time in the early 80s in Cambridge Central Library formed part of my personal Recovery Programme.

The book is an American classic of course; prescribed reading in some 'middle' schools and banned in (worm hugging presumably) others or so I hear. First published in 1973 it's the story of 10 year old Billy's quest to eat 15 worms in 15 days to win a bet. Each worm gets its own chapter billing and its own different despatch; whether within a fried cheese sandwich, smothered in ketchup or peanut butter or just downed straight from the soil, oyster-style. This is a great read for fans of condiments.

And thirty years or so after his mother Bill gobbled it down too with much sniggering appreciation.

It's just a shame there's no slug recipes inside...Spanish Slug Paella perhaps?

'"What have you got for lunch?" asked Tom.
Billy looked embarrassed.
"Worm-and-egg on rye."
"Heck," said Tom. "Why can't you ever bring something somebody else likes, so you can trade?"
Billy frowned. He opened his lunch bag.
"I don't know. I just can't stop. I don't dare tell my mother. I even like the taste now." He scratched his head. "Do you think there's something the doctors don't know? Do you think I could be the first person who's ever been hooked on worms?"'
'How to eat fried worms' by Thomas Rockwell, pub. Orchard books, isbn 978-1-84362-206-2


  1. I LOVED this book as a child, and indeed have a copy within an arm's reach at this very moment :-)

    1. Seems like the PERFECT next step for gross food lover M?!