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|Written By: Elizabeth Barrette (Developer), Non-Member Author(s)|
|The nuttery grub is an invasive caterpillar that infests acorns. It is a tasty, high-protein food.|
Names: Nuttery grub, acorn grub, grub nut; many regional variations also exist. In Torn Tongue, they are argarm, from arg meaning nut and garm meaning grub.
Description: The nuttery grub is an invasive caterpillar that infests acorns. It is a fat, whitish grub with a soft exterior, ranging from half an inch long (when very young) to close to two inches. Tiny black eyes and brown mandibles are visible at the head end. When the acorn is broken open, the grub is generally found curled on itself with one or two folds, depending on the size of the grub and the size of the acorn.
It is the larva of the oak moth, a small, gray, unremarkable moth that is primarily useful as a food source for bats and other small mammals.
Habitat: The grub can live in just about any species of oak, and is therefore found in nearly all climates, from tropical to temperate to subarctic. It is found as far north as the Northern Rim (the Lichenwold has prevented it from spreading further), where it infests the more common oaks such as amaranthine oak, and as far south as Duurludirj lands, where it infests the evergreen vital oak; it is very common in the west and is spreading its way east through the continent.
Breeding Habits and Family Units: When an adult male moth locates a female who is available for mating, he chases her until he catches her (usually on the ground or the bark of a tree) and mates with her. The female then flies to an oak tree with the fertilized eggs. She bores tiny holes in the shell of the acorns and deposits eggs inside them. She usually deposits one egg per acorn; when two grubs hatch in one acorn, neither grows very large, and they are neither good for human consumption nor healthy enough to be likely to grow to adulthood.
The grubs hatch and grow inside the acorns, eating the nut from the inside. The grub grows heavier than the acorn itself, and eventually it becomes too heavy for the tree and drops to the ground. At this point, the grub is mature enough to leave the acorn and burrow into the ground to mature further, though this does not always occur right away. The grubs take six months to a year to mature into adult moths; they are generally laid in summer and fall and hatch throughout the warmer seasons. In colder climates, the grubs that hatch later in the year may burrow into the ground to spend the winter in a pupal state.
Interaction with Humans: Nuttery grubs are delicious and high in protein. They are very commonly eaten both raw and cooked. For consumption, the acorns may be plucked off the ground and the grub taken out, the intestines removed (this is usually simple to do by picking off the end of the grub and pulling straight out). If the grub is intended for raw consumption, it can simply be eaten straight by the harvester. It is slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and mealy on the inside, and has a slightly bitter, nutty flavor; the bitterness comes from the tannins in the acorn, but due to the grub's digestive process, it is far less bitter than the raw acorn would be. The bitterness of the grub depends on the type of acorn; some species of oak make the grub too bitter to be eaten raw, while some leave it quite sweet.
Nuttery grubs are prepared several different ways for cooked consumption. One popular way is simple roasting. Once the grub has been harvested and cleaned, it is stuck on a stick or placed on a tray over a fire. The skin becomes crispy and the inside creamy, less bitter, and much more nutty. In this form it is eaten as a snack, incorporated into a stir-fry or other dish, or added to kebabs along with grapejellies. The roasted grub, with skin removed (often eaten as a snack by those whose job it is to prepare the food) and inside mashed, also makes an excellent paste or thick sauce, popular as an accompaniment for fruit or meat. The grub is also sometimes boiled with its skin removed (a difficult process if it is not roasted first), in which case it makes a slightly chewy, only faintly nutty filler protein, usually included as part of a soup.
The grubs originally lived only at the western end of the continent and on the Duurludirj islands. They were (and still are) a popular staple there, and oak trees were considered, agriculturally, as primarily a host for the nuttery grub. However, as the time barriers have dropped, it has spread quickly east; the moths are competent flyers and the oak trees to the east had few natural defenses against them. This has caused problems in a number of areas, particularly Tifirf, where acorn flour was an important food and suddenly became less available. Some areas embraced the grubs, which offer more calories for less work than acorn flour, but many were angry (and farmers whose livelihoods depended, in whole or in part, on oaks devastated) at the decrease in availability of their traditional food. Horticulturalists in Tifirf worked hard to prevent the grub from spreading all over the shard, and there are now protected oak farms, as well as a slowly-spreading variety of oaks that have acorns resistant to the oak moths, with harder, thicker shells.
Lore: In both lore and cuisine, nuttery grubs are commonly associated with grapejellies. The Duurludirj say that the Winefather's wife was angry when he threw his grapes into the sea and hurled nuts at him, which bounced off and landed on land, but came to life just like the grapejellies.
There is also a story, with various renditions from cute to bawdy depending on the audience, of a moth that saw an acorn shaking in the wind and fell in love with it.
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