If this doesn’t qualify for the idea of an “exotic menu”, nothing does! The Styruine Round Worm, a minor pest of vegetable gardens, has the odd distinction of being an edible insect of surprisingly spicy taste and (not so surprisingly) crunchy texture... Hobbits have found a way to make a delectable meal out of them, but Orcs say they are best served live.
A grub-like creature between three and five
nailsbreadths long, the
Styruine Round Worm has what looks like a perpetually gaping maw at one end, and
about a dozen tiny legs along the length of its body. It is
styruine in colour (hence
its name), and its “maw” is rimmed in a thin line of
karikrimson, without any
visible eyes or antennae.
Territory. Styruine Round Worms can be found almost anywhere in Caelereth where the climate is pleasant enough to support them. They do not thrive in cold areas, or places of desert. Farmers from Sarvonia, Korweyn, and Aca-Santerra have all dealt with them at one time or another when they discover them nibbling away like caterpillars in their crops.
Habitat/Behaviour. Styruine Round Worms tend to eat a lot. In fact, eating seems to be their only purpose. They are prey for all kinds of small creatures, from spiders and other bugs to small field mice; practically any creature that eats insects will put them on their menu.
They are prolific breeders, but they are not very mobile – this, combined with their being on everyone’s menu has kept them from becoming a major threat to crops, though isolated farms have lost considerable amounts of food to the bugs when they have gone unchecked. To date, no major food shortage or catastrophe has been attributed to the Styruine Round Worm, but farmers are keeping their eyes peeled.
Diet. The Round Worm does not eat many greens – it focuses more on the fruit of a plant. This is probably another factor that has kept them from becoming a scourge of some kind, since they are reluctant to eat greens year-round: they only start reproducing in large quantities once crops start showing forth, and once the crops are harvested, the bulk of their food source is gone; in the meanwhile, they are being eaten by everything else that has a taste for them – and are sometimes harvested right along with the crops. In fact, some farmers have noted that they have a particular taste for crops that are “hot” or “spicy”, so they have begun planting foods the Styruine Round Worm is attracted to – and then harvesting the worm to sell!
Mating. Copulation seems to occur when two of the creatures bump into each other, and then a few days later, the female will lay eggs – usually at base of a plant in warm earth. They hatch and grow very quickly from a larvae through a pupae stage into their “adult” form. Within approximately a week they are full grown and as voracious as their parents.
Usages. While it's not everyone's favorite, the Styruine Round Worm is edible. They are crunchy, have a spicy flavor and are easy to get if one knows how. Hobbits from Helmondshire discovered them in their crops and gardens and were wondering how to rid themselves of the voracious pests. A visiting gnome, working on the rumor that orcs had been known to eat the Styruine as a snack of sorts, actually began to collect and experiment with them - and proved the rumour true. So in a reverse of tactics, members of the halfling population began to intentionally harvest the worm. It is observed by hobbits of expertise on the subject that Styruine Round Worms are best served with hot spices slathered on a slice of bread, and a glass of cool milk handy to wash away the hot residue if one eats too many of them too fast. They are good in stews, meat loafs, or served like berries in a bowl (sometimes coated with honey).
Orcs, however, have declared that the Styruine Round Worm is only worth eating while alive. They ask “What is the use of eating Styruines if they do not wriggle on the way down?”