“We’re not going to last much longer.” T’jallak said, his voice sounding of exhaustion. I stopped my forward crawl through the wilderness to look back at the older man. We were all emanciated, bare to our bones, having been on the run for two weeks now. Looking at him was like looking at any of us; clothing tattered and filthy, skin cut, bruised and dirty, hair and beards growing wildly. He was right about our situation. Two of us had already died from hunger, a third when we were happened upon by our Amarr masters. But we had come this far, and I wasn’t about to give up on our chance for freedom just yet. Besides, I didn’t know if I could survive another ‘re-education’ session. This had been my fourth attempt to escape unsuccessfully.
“We’ll make it, T’jallak.” I said, my own voice hoarse, dry, cracking. “Lay here. I’ll get us something to eat.” I turned to see the older man had already stopped to rest, his eyes closed. Instinctively, I checked his pulse. He was still alive. I stole a quick glance around to make sure he was sufficiently covered from wandering eyes, then set about finding us some food.
Thirty minutes later I returned. I didn’t have the gear to hunt large game, or anything that could outrun or outmaneuver me for that matter; so I had done what I could.
I had found some wild tomatoes, not quite ripened, but hopefully edible, surrounded by hornworms. I hoped they hadn’t laid their eggs inside of the ones I had picked, as their colony appeared to be feasting on the tomato patch. Still, it was food, and it was the best I could do.
I struck up a small fire, and did the best I could with them, offering the first bit to T’jallak, whom hadn’t stirred this entire time.
“T’jallak,” I said, a little louder than I wanted to, “Old man, wake up.” I said, poking at him with my hand. He didn’t move. Instinctively, I checked his pulse once again. The old man had died.
Fried Green Tomato Hornwormsby David George Gordon
What does a tomato hornworm taste like? Well, what would you taste like if you’d been stuffing yourself solely with tomato leaves for the better part of a month? Hornworms are ridiculously chlorophyll-rich. They taste great with just about any summer vegetable, but my favorite recipe draws inspiration from the cuisine of the Whistle Stop Cafe, that fictitious Alabama diner made famous by novelist Fanny Flagg.
“You’ll think you died and gone to heaven,” boasts Flagg of her recipe. To which I add, “If you do go to heaven, ask the Powers That Be to keep the tomato hornworms out of my vegetable patch.”
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 16 tomato hornworms
- 4 medium green tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
- Salt and pepper to taste
- White cornmeal
- In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil. Then lightly fry the hornworms, about 4 minutes, taking care not to rupture the cuticles of each insect under high heat.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Season tomato rounds with salt and pepper, then coat with cornmeal on both sides.
- In a large skillet, fry tomatoes until lightly browned on both sides.
- Top each round with 2 fried tomato hornworms.
- Garnish the paired hornworms with a single basil leaf.
Yields 4 servings. Mmmmmhmmmmm good!