Wa Goodies: An ingenious way of getting them


In the high mountains where the Wa inhabit, the people cannot reject any opportunity to incorporate to the diet different sources of animal proteins. It is for it that between their gathering activities, the Wa include the capture of different kinds of insects and crustaceans. Many of these animals that are repugnant for other cultures are for them not only an edible resource, but an appetizer considered exquisite.

When they catch crabs, they usually cook them in water, and then grind them with a mixture of garlic, ginger, chili and salt until a delicious paste is formed. They make similar dishes with grasshoppers, termites, shrimps and other insects.

Though they do not reject any source of proteins, and even insects that can be gotten only occasionally end up being part of their diet, the most valuable food for them is honey.

To get it they follow a really ingenious method (1).

When spring arrives they look for a place to watch a field where there are flowers they know the wild bees like. Then they prepare a small trap with small insects that wild bees like very much. So when the bees go to the flowers, they smell these small insects. When they come closer to eat them, they don't realize that the men have prepared a small thread with some feathers very fine. While the bee is eating doesn't realize that that thread is closing around its waist, in such a way that when it returns to its honeycomb it will be easy to follow it, for the feathers that hang of its waist.

Once located the source of honey, the Wa wait until night, when they will make a fire under the honeycomb to kill the bees with the smoke. Then they can take the honey without risk.

Nobody must think that the Wa feed of insects. For them, like for some of us, they are an appetizer and an occasional meal.

The base of its feeding is the rice, that they supplement with some vegetables that grow in their gardens and others that gather in the wild, fishing, hunting and the occasional sacrifice of a domestic animal, mainly hens, goats, pigs and cows.

(1) Zhao Yanshe.- Wa zu shenhuo fangshi (Lifestyle of the Wa Nationality). Kunming. 2000

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