Amazing Places

Tamilok, Or "Woodworm," is a Slimy Filipino Delicacy

We eat some pretty weird stuff. Donkey milk cheese? Snake wine? Foul-smelling durian? Bugs? Deep-fried axoltl?! Depending on where you live, nearly any food from another part of the world warrants a double-take. Add tamilok to that list. Also known as "woodworm," this slimy little string is a Filipino delicacy.

Warning: Strong stomachs may be required for the rest of this article.

Is Your Mouth Watering Yet?

Tamilok is a famous Filipino delicacy, often found in the provinces Palawan and Aklan. It's also called woodworm, because it's, well, a worm-like thing that is extracted from wood. To harvest woodworms, people can head to swampy forests in these Filipino regions and hunt for them in dead tree trunks, logs, and branches. Though the woodworms don't kill the trees, they only inhabit dead wood. Once you crack 'er open, you may find the slug-like noodles laced through the decaying holes inside. It almost looks like gooey, puffed-up spaghetti is dripping out. Pass us a fork!

Though the harvesting process is objectively an unpleasant sight, at least the animals aren't writhing around — the tamilok dies as soon as it's exposed to air. Phew. Despite looking like worms, these things are actually mollusks that live in rotting mangroves along slightly salty water, where rivers meet the ocean. "Woodmollusks" just doesn't have the same ring to it, you know? Oh, another thing; Remember that viral video of the disgusting giant shipworm pouring out of that tube? Shipworms and tamiloks are in the same family. Yeah, we're talking about eating those things.

Slimy Slug Soup

Apparently, tamilok really is quite tasty. How else would it reach delicacy status? To eat it — here's where things get a little hard to stomach — you have to rip off its little head and feet. Next, you have to, um, remove the food it's eaten. In other words, you have to squeeze all the crap (literally) out of it. From there, you can put it raw in a small saucer with water and hot pepper. According to ChoosePhilippines, tamilok is prepared in a way that isn't too dissimilar from Peruvian ceviche. The dish is said to taste like creamy, slimy oysters with a jelly-like consistency, but saltier. Still feeling brave enough to try?

Dare to Eat the Philippines' Delectable Woodworms

Written by Joanie Faletto October 17, 2017

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