Amayenje ( Grylloidea ) are large crickets that are almost the size of a thumb. They are called Jjenje (singular) and Mayenje (plural) in Luganda, the main language of Central Uganda. They have big heads with flat foreheads as well as black outer wings covering dark brown inner wings. The parts of the body are separated, with a brown color at every joint, while the bottom part of the whole insect is light brown with spotted brown and black legs.
The Ugandan Crickets have a particular taste. The thighs are thick, with a crisp shell and a concentrated flavor of chicken, the head is bursting with fat and umami juices, silky and reminiscent of lamb’s brains. The body is milder, creamy and slightly sweet.
The Ugandan Edible Crickets live in holes they dig in the reddish earth at the side of footpaths in much diversified gardens. This is where they are dug from dig: the process of digging them out is by chopping into the low bank, a tunnel revealed in cross-sections, sloping down. This is where they live. They make two chambers, one for eating, which is above, one for laying eggs, which is below. Sometimes, it makes more tunnels, to fool enemies and predators.
Traditionally the crickets are prepared by plucking off the wings and lower joints of each of the six legs. The remaining upper joints flail. The head is pulled forward, inserting a small twig into the top of the neck to lift out the two small, connected sacks of the digestive tract. They are then put into a pail of water to clean them, and to let them die. They are then put on a hot pan, roasted on fire for a while and then served with vegetables like onions and leeks, among others.
The Amayenje are eaten not just because of they are delicious, but because they are a part of the Earth, they build their nest in, the beans, potato leaves they eat and the birds and people that eat them. The excessive use of herbicides and pesticides by the farming communities is threatening the existence of the Crickets in the areas where they have their national habitants.