Monday, July 19, 2010

Medicine or Mischief?

Cleary, it’s a witchetty grub. Or is it? I retrieve it from the mound of wood chips, grateful I haven’t sliced it in half with the shovel, and take it inside to show my sister Margaret. Dad and I used to eat these in Barrabool Road in Geelong, I quip. Down by the row of pines on the back fence. He’d pluck the grubs from the wood pile, one for him, one for me. They taste like coconut but sweeter, and gritty. The experience was one I shared exclusively with dad, and one-on-one experiences with dad were a rarity in the 60s. Simple, yet full of warm fuzzy feelings. There’s a dozen more where these came from, I add. Should I eat it? Up to you, she says. Something about its size makes me feel a bit queezy, I’m used to much smaller ones, and that greyish bit on its nether regions looks kind of weird. I burrow it back into its home in the wood chips and continue barrowing loads of mulch. Later on, with my new found knowledge of a secret harvest of witchetty grubs in the garden, and having just read ‘The Songlines’, an inspirational account of the aboriginal dream time, I set about trying to find some reference to witchetty grub dreaming on the net. There’s dozens of artworks, but little or no explanation. I stumble on a site that suggests that witchetty grub fat when rubbed on the skin makes a sick person better. Novel! A dispensary of therapeutic fat squirm at my back door. I flick onto google images and chance upon a surprise discovery. What jumps out is a comparison of a grub that is sometimes mistaken for the witchetty grub but is actually the white curl grub, or scarab beetle. A serious little pest that kills lawn and other flora. Mischievous Mr Curly has been masquerading as medicine, naughty blighter!

Just as well I hit pause on the culinary act.

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