How adventurous are you when it comes to eating exotic food in foreign countries? I suppose it depends on what it is, and if you know what it is (some delicacies do not lend themselves well to translation). As expats and travelers we sometimes have mind-broadening/altering opportunities to try interesting food of the sort we would not encounter in our home countries: Culturally unique victuals the locals prepare because they have magical properties, food that will heal, aid in your spiritual enlightenment, make you sexy, or help you get pregnant. That sort of thing.
Okay, let’s talk about goat meat. Not usually on the dinner table in the suburbs of the West, but not necessarily unknown. In many supermarkets you can find goat milk and of course goat cheese, or chèvre, but goat meat is more difficult to find and appears not to feature in the culinary dreams of many Americans and Western Europeans.
Being a lucky person, I’ve eaten goat meat (chevon, if you want to be sophisticated about it) in several countries, prepared in various ways – roasted whole over a pit fire, made into a curry, cooked on bamboo sticks over a charcoal burner, and in West African groundnut soup, to mention a few. Yummy delicious unless chewy.
My most memorable goat-meat tale takes me back to Kenya, East Africa, the country where I was married in a 10-minute ceremony that deserves its own story one day. My Peace Corps volunteer husband worked with Kikuyu farmers who often made him presents of fresh peas, passion fruit and other produce, all consumed by us with appetite and appreciation.
One night my mate came home bearing a gigantic blood sausage crafted from goat odds and ends, presented to him as a gift by a Kikuyu farmer who was concerned about my failure to produce a mtoto after an entire year of marriage. The sausage, then, was a fertility sausage.
I examined it respectfully, listening carefully to my mate who had witnessed its preparation. Let me not dwell on his colorful description; suffice it to say that the sausage looked like the ancestral mother of all sausages. The thought of its possessing magical powers did not seem at all outrageous. We were in Africa, after all. Stuff happens there.
“Do I have to eat this?” I asked.
“Yes,” said my mate. “He’ll expect a report and I am an honest man.” Which he is.
“We can share,” I said hopefully.
He took a step backward. “This is meant to help women conceive. I’m not touching this thing.”
I contemplated the sausage. “What if it works?”
“It will be a miracle.”
“It will be a disaster.”
He gave me a pleading look. “Be a sport and have some.”
I was a sport and had some.
I hate to disappoint you, but it tasted fine, sort of what you’d expect goat sausage to taste like: strong and flavorful with a hint of potent.
And for you who are wondering: Yes, I did get pregnant.
But it wasn’t until three years later, on another continent, just as we had planned.
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What strange foods have you had the courage to try? Any special powers attached to them? Were you ever in a situation where you could not refuse to eat something without seriously insulting your host? Please entertain me!
OOPS! The photo shows sheep, not goats!