November is a month to harvest, de-wing, fry, sell, devour and celebrate a Ugandan cultural delicacy. Grasshoppers, or nsenene as it’s locally known, flood the humid airs of the year’s second rainy season, and Ugandan trappers take to the fields and streets in the masses. The days of November mark the rising demand for the nation’s most beloved edible insect, and there’s a buzz of activity surrounding their capture, sale, distribution, preparation and culinary enjoyment.
Having grown up in Canada, I had never (intentionally) eaten an insect in my entire life – but I wasn’t so squeamish to miss out on experiencing grasshopper season for myself. Perhaps there was a part of me that felt a bit like a television contestant on ‘Fear Factor’ (coming eye to eye with a golden fried hopper before stuffing it in my mouth), but I cast that aside, issued a small prayer I hope it tastes like chicken and did as most Ugandans do. And truthfully, I can report that my first grasshopper season will not be my last.
Nsenene is a cultural delicacy in Uganda that’s been enjoyed by the masses for many centuries. Grasshoppers come out after the rains, meaning Ugandans wait for a mini-season in May, and the true season in November.
It’s an unregulated industry and many different people of different income levels participate. Children catch the hoppers with their bare hands, women harvest with nets, and more serious business folks set up large sheet metal panels that are attached with simple light bulbs, which attract nsenene and capture them in large barrels at night.