When thinking of a slimy, worm delicacy our mind will soon anchor to China. In fact worms, bugs, snakes and even birds nests are expensive and delicious dishes in different parts of the world.
A worm found in Himalayan mountain ranges of Nepal,Bhutan, India, and Tibet is the most expensive in its class. These worms are special as they are consumed for its medicinal benefits. The worm gets infected with a pathogenic fungus that produces a fruiting spore within its host body that increases its medicinal value. The fruit sprouts out of the worm killing it .These ash-colored worms are up to 2 inches long and resemble common moth caterpillars. These worms are found at an altitude of up to 5000 meters in the Himalayas.
Indians eat these worms to improve vigor and sexual prowess and in Hindi the worms are called ‘Keeda Jadi’.The Chinese and Nepalese name it ‘Yartsa gunba’ and Tibetan monks call it Yartsa gunbu’.The worm tastes sweet with a meaty texture and is also considered very beneficial for respiratory diseases.The Keeda Jadi or the yarsgambu’s scientific name is ‘Ophiocordyceps Sinensis’ and English speakers just call it caterpillar fungus.
It will cost you 1000 Rs just to taste this king of worms.For one Kg of Keeda Jadi, it will cost up to 10 lakh rupees, as these are very difficult to find. Sherpas, and Tibetan monks camp at high altitudes for months to gather Keeda Jadi’s and they sell them at the valley markets. Nepal had banned the trade of these worms but recently the ban is lifted. In India the laws for trade of Keeda Jadi is vague-Stocking is permitted but sales are illegal.
However, the Chinese government has very strict rules for the trade of these pricey worms as these if not picked at the right time of its life cycle have very high amounts of arsenic, a neurotoxin.