Termite Mound Ovens - Gastro Obscura

Termite Mound Ovens

Once the bugs have moved on, termite towers can be used for outdoor bread baking.

Termites are prolific builders, constructing dirt mounds that can stand as high as 30 feet. The bugs don’t actually live inside these structures; the sturdy but porous towers serve as “lungs” for the colonies below, letting carbon dioxide out and oxygen in.

In parts of Africa, Australia, and South America, these impressive works of insect architecture double as outdoor ovens for baking bread and pizza. In the past, however, the ovens were used for all manner of meats, ranging from emu to snake.

Unless you enjoy termites on your food, first confirm that the mound has been abandoned and no bugs remain. Then, according to a 1902 article about South Africa in The Naturalists’ Journal“You have only to dig or cut a door hole at the base of the anthill, put in half a [newspaper], light it and blow till the heap catches fire, and you have an impromptu baker’s oven. In ten minutes you put your steak in … cover up the hole, and leave it for an hour or more. When you come back from your quail shooting or botanising you have a plat[e] worthy of the table of the gods.”

Where to Try It
  • African Horseback Safaris
    Okavango Delta, Botswana

    This safari company leads horseback tours that include pizza made in a termite hill oven.

Written By
Susie Armitage Susie Armitage