Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Strange Bedfruits


Neil Astley who publishes Bloodaxe Books in Northumbria, posted a BBC link on Facebook: Stop eating cats and dogs say animal rights campaigners in Switzerland "Time to boycott everything Swiss? Barbarians!"

Many usual fuzzy bambi posts ensued, including boycotting Toblerone, but then there was a curious role reversal when the meat eaters chimed in and said if you're going to eat meat, then don't be a hippocrite (stet). By that point, I was on a roll. 

Sometimes you just eat what you're served. Even some of us (occasional) carnivores have moral issues eating endangered species, though. Sometimes it's unavoidable, our Guatemalan hosts proudly prepared us a regional dish: kebabls—which turned out to be a medley of wild creatures from the jungle. 
My new friend wrote: It is surprising however what people will/do eat. Cannibalism comes to mind when we eat animals. What is the difference?! Being a vegetarian is not without its dilemmas either.
Sometimes one eats what is available. (I can't eat legumes, a huge handicap in S. America, and fresh vegetables are out). However, not wanting to offend our hosts, I went through the usual list: pollo, vaca, puerco, oveja? No. Serpiente? No no...es venado, y como se dicie—los otros animales de la selva. 

By that point, I desperately searched my meager Spanish vocabulary for the word monkey...and learned a new Mayan word: tepesquintli. It took me decades to discover what it was: agouti. OK. Other stories about Baja sea turtles, and Peruvian cuy, too. 

Fodder for my poems, no? A historical note, during WWII, cats were called roof rabbits in Holland. Is the strange Swiss appetite somehow related?
She posted: Eat to survive vs eat to be polite. My father ate sheep's eyes as guest of honour in the Middle East and had to and in front of everyone. We could conceivably live on beans and rice. As far as I can tell everything has been eaten at least once by someone or something!
What a story. In Russia, I was in a similar dilemma with rooster feet in my borsht—a local delicacy. After living there one winter, I had to seriously change my squeamishness. I quit eating most things, and began to spontaneously bruise. The doctor said I needed to eat protein. How I learned to eat smalow—smoked fat.
Then she had to go there, the lower depths: How many trips have I been on where I had no idea what was in the food and never ever want to know! Ever. Enough said I got parasites! It was the best diet I have ever been on would recommend it to anyone wanting to loose weight and fast! 
So sorry to hear you were a hotel. I've been a host too...no fruit, not fresh veggies, can't eat any form of beans...and my partner wants to go to India...a dilemma. When traveling in third world countries, I eat... not much? Traveling can seriously challenge one's first world notions... Got sick once from ceviche, and I thought that would be safe with all the lime. hahaha! 

My partner at the time (poet-translator) would take us off the grid, meeting up with poets...crazy times. Isla Amantani, our host, an Aymara family, offered us bitter native black potatoes and cuy (guinea pig and fleas). 

Nothing else to eat, other than a local herb for tea...and water doesn't boil at that elevation—so rice and quinoa are out. No stores, no restaurants... an off the beaten trek island in the middle of a vast lake, waiting until the next mail boat came. I kept waiting for seals to appear as we overlooked the vast lago Titicaca, Potosi shining in the distance. Think I was hallucinating from hunger by then. 
She said: That is exactly where I travelled extensively with my son some years ago as well as in Mexico, Bolivia and Guatemala. Amazing our best trip ever! We often reminisce my son and I. Ceviche yes that sounds like a familiar horror. Lobster carpaccio in Lima Peru was our nemesis! 
Didn't the word carpaccio give it away? Yet, I wouldn't trade the experiences for anything, though they were hairy, to say the least... Never got yo Bolivia, sad to say. Then you understand the eating dilemma first hand as well. Travel is not a vacation.
It took me years to recover from bad Vienna sausage. It was an eyeball story: our Peruvian Chinese host brought out a delicacy—those blasted sausages. I'll say no more, other than I couldn't eat food for weeks—not even bananas. Or drink juice. 

I managed to hike over the Andes on a strange bevvy concoction of Lipton tea, sugar, lime juice and steeped coca leaves...but I made it to Machu Picchu the long way...over (ahem) Dead Woman Pass.
She said: Well what can I say?! We had to try something new, in a new place on the Pacific, the final frontier...you know life on the edge...Cataccio and dogaccio is where this all started!
Maybe we'll meet again somewhere on the Gringo Trail, see what's on the menu. Poor Neil will wonder how his post got so hijacked (it's her fault, Neil!)... Good job closing the circle. Cataccio and dogaccio! Are there cat bits in the Toblerone? just say no to fugu, OK? Yeah, if the pufferfish is prepared wrong, it's all hats off—there'll be no comment—ever again.

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