Snails And Other Strange “Foods”.
Written by: The Bridge on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
The food is something to get used to over here. If you thought I had a problem getting up for breakfast at home, here it is even less tempting. In the communal dinning area breakfast can vary from 7:00 am to 8:00 am to not at all. And then breakfast it is (bread and tea) on one day and (beans and water) the nest day. I can’t survive on a slice of bread till 1:00 and so Judy Basel sometimes makes something when we get back from breakfast. At 1:00 pm it is “Garri Time” which consists of (beans and water) or or (garri with garri soup and water) and sometimes (yam in a soup with water). That is the total menu that rotates every three days. All the food for the dining is made on a wood fire.The kitchen is a separate building for good reasons as everything is black with soot. This can be quite a sight for someone that is used to a spotless kitchen. For supper the individual families eat at home. They cook behind the house on a little fire made with palm branches. Because of all the smoke, the walls of the houses tend to be black. They like to make stews with waterleaf, plantain, snails and peppers. Some times for special occasions they will have something else like goat meat. One of the stranger things that they eat is snails. In one way the snails are probably a lot like eating oysters. I like oysters, but am not interested in snails, at least not yet.
One day we went snail hunting. This was done at 10:00 in the evening when it was dark. That meant we needed flashlights to find them. It goes without saying that the thought of stepping on snakes crossed my mind as we stumbled about looking for the slimy little things. I quickly found out that at night is a good time to see many different things like frogs and praying menthes. So while I was looking for some snails some kid comes up to me to borrow my flashlight and before I knew it, I was stuck without any light and still trying to look for snails. I ended out doing like the rest, one flashlight to three people while thrashing about looking for snails. Anyway, we found quite a few. The average keeper was four inches long. These were put in a bucket and kept till the day they would be eaten.
The next day the snails were shelled by boys. This is quite messy and takes quite a while. The shell and gut are thrown away and then the meat is fried on a pan with palm oil. They also use snails in their soup. One time on the way home the guys stopped to buy some snails on a stick with peppers. A lot like a shishkibob, just with snails, onions and pepper
The snails might lay some eggs in the night and these are not eaten. Supposedly they dig into the ground and white stuff covers their face. When the first rain falls at the end of the dry season then the snails crawl out. That is when the night hunting begins. The young boys are of course very proud of their catch and I could hear them running around late into the night. They like them because they taste sweet. I wouldn’t know.
Then there are many other strange things to eat like frogs. They have three types of frogs, two of which they eat. Some of the frogs get quite big and can easily be caught in the fish pond area. In fact the frog is big enough that they eat most of it.
Then there are the maggots. They are big and fat and are found in chopped down palm trees. These maggots are eaten straight from the tree or fried. They are also mixed into rice and are supposedly high in protein. One of the young people that I asked said they tasted just like chicken. I can’t imagine. These maggots, if left alone will turn into beetles and get wings to fly away.
I once saw a snake that the women had killed in the garden. The snake was of the constrictor type. As I was looking at the snake Dan came along and took the snake. So I asked him what he wanted to do with it and he said one of the women had sent him for the snake because they wanted to eat it. Very strange; no wonder I don’t see too many snakes around here.
Eddy Vetter from Cascade would like to add “I hope the boys find the humongous toad that sits himself beside my bedroom window and goes GROOK GROOK GROOK all night”.
Somehow I can’t understand how someone can eat this stuff. When we try to get them to raise rabbits to eat, they say nobody will eat them. I guess we will have to see once the rabbit is in the stew because I haven’t seen to many things that aren’t eaten around here. Â All I know is that I like the good bowl of borsh soup that Judy and Anna Basel make. I guess home still tastes the best.