Termites Taste Like Carrots!

With the tropical rainforest canopy stretching overhead, our guide Brandon pointed out different species of trees to the dozen or so of us in his group. As he did, he casually raised his walking stick into the air and jabbed it into a large black bulb in the side of a tree.

He did it so casually that few even noticed.

Our guide Brandon with his stick in a termite mound high in a tree.

Our guide Brandon with his stick in a termite mound high in a tree.

Brandon called our attention to the sound of a nearby bird. As we scanned the trees around us for the bird making the call, he stood there with his his stick poking in the bulb for several minutes.

When he pulled it down, the end of the stick was covered in very small termites, or “wood ants” as some West Indian people call them. “Who wants to know what termites taste like?,” Brandon asked the group.

Brandon's stick in the termite mound.

Brandon’s stick in the termite mound.

As I stepped forward for closer inspection, I asked him what they do taste like. Brandon pinched a few off the end of the stick and popped them in his mouth. “Carrots,” he said.

I followed suit.

Incredibly, termites do taste exactly like carrots!

Most people who visit will, understandably, not have such adventurous palettes and will not want to try live termites. Fortunately, guided rainforest tours of the Asa Wright Nature Centre include a delicious gourmet lunch consisting of a selection of more “normal” foods. The vegetables served at lunch are all grown on site.

As a former coffee plantation, Asa Wright Nature Centre still maintains a small grove of coffee plants. They harvest and brew coffee on site for the enjoyment of guests but do not produce enough for export or sale. The centre’s coffee is all robusta, however Peter O’Connor, one of the centre docents who oversees the plants, says that many of the working plantations which remain in Trinidad also grow Arabica.

Trinidad coffee at Asa Wright with hummingbirds fluttering about.

Trinidad coffee at Asa Wright with hummingbirds fluttering about.

The coffee trees were not in fruit when we toured in July but our guide took me into the shed where they store harvested beans to see some of the raw, unwashed, unroasted beans.

I got a cup of coffee made with the centre’s beans. It was strong and very rich. Quite possibly the best cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted.

The centre does not own a coffee roaster, nor do they send their beans off site for roasting. Instead, they simply roast them by hand in very small batches in a saucepan on the stove. The beans literally go from raw to roasted to brewed in a matter of minutes.

If you go:
Asa Wright Nature Center
Spring Hill Estate, Trinidad, West indies
+1 868-667-4655

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