Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You've got brains, kid

The power went out in the village so I went to go buy some candles at the boutique nearby. On my way returning home, I passed by the teachers’ house. I saw a flashlight bouncing through the darkness, so I called out a greeting. It was one of the teachers. He shined his flashlight in my face as I approached, then said, “We need your torch.”

He grabbed my flashlight from me and brought it to where a couple of other teachers were cooking. One of them was hacking away at a goat head with a broken machete. I thought for sure the old man was going to take one of his thumbs off. The power soon returned, but I stuck around to see how they planned to prepare this goat head.

While we stood around the boiling pot that smelled like a distinct mixture of beef and wet dog, an interesting conversation ensued. This particular group of teachers is all Congolese. I discovered that they segregate themselves from the others because they are not Rwandan. The distaste that they have for Rwandan culture became more and more apparent as the conversation progressed. The two groups get along on the surface, but they don't like to spend extended amounts of time together.

I learned all about Congolese cuisine. It seems they will indiscriminately eat any kind of meat in the DRC, including small birds, tortoises, monkeys and rats. One of my Congolese friends explained to me that there is a certain organ in crocodiles that is extremely poisonous and must be removed under the supervision of the local authorities. When they remove this particular organ, they must throw it into a 30 meter-deep pit, dump gas into it, light the gas, and then bury the hole again.

When I finally tried to leave, my friends asked me to stay and eat with them. I obliged. Goat brain is now the strangest food I have eaten. It made the cassava paste seem normal. One of them described it as smooth. I would say goop describes its texture best.

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