The size of termite mounds range from small bumps in the ground to tall castle-like protrusions. Mound heights vary in accordance with different mound-building termite species. The tallest termite mounds are normally around twenty feet, but some measure thirty feet in height. It is easy to become fascinated with these towering structures considering that they are built by thousands of tiny insects. In addition to their impressive height, scientists are also fascinated with the complicated interior design of termite mounds. Termites manipulate the internal airflow within a mound by means of an intricate ventilation system that they create. This ventilation system keeps internal temperatures stable in spite of tumultuous external temperatures within the tropical and subtropical regions where mounds are located. Scientists and engineers have long been attempting to mimic this clever form of air conditioning in manmade building designs in order to cut energy consumption. However, termite mounds may be of interest to professional chefs and bakers too, as termite mounds have been used by humans for centuries as ovens for baking.
Mound-building termite habitats can be found on only three continents: Africa, Australia, and South America. In all three of these countries, outdoor enthusiasts sometimes use abandoned termite mounds for baking everything from bread to pizza. Although it may seem unconventional to bake food within termite mounds, indigenous people and colonials have cooked a variety of animal meats in this manner for centuries.
An article written in The Naturalists’ Journal one hundred and fifteen years ago describes how termite mounds can easily be converted into functioning ovens. Before using a termite mound as an oven, a small hole needs to be carved somewhere around the mound’s base. Next, dry vegetation, nearby brushwood or a rolled up newspaper should be inserted deep into the mound through the carved hole. This flammable material then needs to be lit with a match. Gently blowing on the flame will ignite the rest of the material and the heap will catch fire. Before placing your food through the hole, you should wait ten minutes in order to allow for the mound’s internal environment to heat up. After the wait, raw meat should be placed through the hole. After covering the hole, the meat will become fully cooked within one hour. Hunters and outdoorsmen often use termite mounds for cooking wild game.
Would you be willing to eat food that was cooked within a termite mound?