Tuesday 18 June 2013

My fight against weEvil

Anyone who lives in Mumbai (or India in general) will know about the fight against the evil that is the weevil.  Weevils - tiny, tiny little carbohydrate loving insects that somehow get into cardboard boxes full of cereal, rice, pasta and spices - and like to burrow their way into the grains of your precious imported foods. 

I first encountered the [rather cutely named] Weevil one day when I opened the door to our spice cupboard. There were lots of little black specks lying on the bottom of the cupboard - which at first I thought to be just a bit of spilled ground pepper.  Then one of those little black specks flew upwards - waking the other little black specks which also began to fly around.  Yuck.  Shooing them away (and admittedly, trying to murder them with a spritz of Mr Muscle), I thought nothing more of it. Until that is, Mr Jules (knowing that I am a bit squeamish about such matters) decided to check the herbs and spices. Which was just as well - because the whole stock was writhing with weevils getting high on spice.  Unfortunately, we had to throw everything out.  Even though weevils can probably be considered a bit of harmless protein - if you were to cook and eat them by accident. God forbid!

Weevils are probably only a millimetre across - this is magnified many, many times! (gross, huh?)
Upon further inspection of the kitchen, we found these little horrors in all of our bags of pasta - expensive spaghetti from Nature's Basket, penne and fusilli. You could see that the little black specks had even tunnelled right into individual strands of spaghetti.  We also found tiny holes in the silver foil of our Oxo cubes (which I had brought all the way back from the UK) where the weevils had got in. In fact, we found the black dots of these diminutive evil monsters in virtually every cupboard - even where there was no food. I swear they were even trying to sample the bags of my 'first flush' Darjeeling tea. 

Our cleaner Reetha tells me that the insects commonly hide out in Garam Masala.  Then when no one is looking, they creep out and infest everything else around.  Or they may slink about in rice grains, waiting for an opportunity to spread their kind. That is why we always buy sealed bags of rice - instead of scooping from open sacks at the local market (which may already contain the eggs or larvae of weevils).

All of this did of course teach us a lesson.  A lesson which I would like to pass on to any other person about to arrive in India.  That is - to put anything that could cause an infestation of weevils into sealable plastic or steel containers as soon as you buy them.  Your herbs and spices, your pasta, rice, stock-cubes, breadcrumbs etc. Those plastic boxes with the clickable lids are widely available (at Hypercity, Pali Market, Crawford Market etc) and will easily pay for themselves by stopping these little blighters getting in (or, if your food is already infested - stop them getting out!)  We also use the plastic containers that our takeaways arrive in to shield our food supplies from wEvil. 

You've been warned!

A selection of containers with clickable lids, takeaway containers and even jam jars used in the fight against weEvil.

Cereals, rice, flour & breadcrumbs - all nicely protected (and looks tidy too).


  1. Love your blog! Its upbeat and not all gloom and doom. Am an Indian moving to Mumbai from the UK. Glad to see the Waitrose counter- know its not much, but spotted the flour. Love baking!

    1. Thanks for your compliments Sav! There is no need for doom and gloom - although it's a bit grey when it constantly rains. But hopefully when you move here you will love it as much as I do - plenty to be optimistic about! Best wishes, BombayJules (and yes, Waitrose is a relief...!)



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