What's the grossest thing you've ever eaten? Tongue, oxtail, durian? What if you had to eat worms, one a day, for fifteen days? That's the bet that Billy takes on in How To Eat Fried Worms, by Thomas Rockwell.
Tom will be Billy's second, and Joe will be Alan's. He can eat the worms any way he wants: boiled, stewed, fried, fricasseed. Joe and Alan will provide the worms, but there has to be one of them present when it gets eaten, to be sure there is no cheating.
If Billy can do it, Alan will pay him fifty dollars. That would be enough money to buy the mini bike that George's brother was going to sell before he leaves for college.
How bad could a worm taste? Billy had eaten fried liver, salmon loaf, pigs feet. Well...could he use ketchup or mustard or anything he wanted on it?
Okay, the bet was on!
Trouble started from Day One. Tom was arguing with Alan and Joe, who wanted to dig the worm from a manure pile. They ended up digging up a night crawler from across the field. A big, fat, juicy, red night crawler.
"Awrgh!" cried Billy. "A night crawler isn't a worm!"
After consulting in the dictionary, they had to agree that it was a worm all right. A python-sized worm, maybe, but still a worm, and fair game. Ugh.
Billy glopped on ketchup and mustard and horseradish and a few drops of lemon juice, then salt and pepper. The next piece they added cinnamon and sugar, a bit of cheese, some cracker crumbs and Worchestershire sauce.
After he had eaten the whole thing, Billy got up, started flapping his arms like a big bird and hopped around the barn, crying, "Gute, gute. Ver'fine, ver'fine. Gute, gute."