Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Fall of Sahara Sarah

I would like to state that friends and family might find this post to be a bit shocking. Perhaps they’ve guessed that I censor my blog. There are just some topics I don’t talk about, such as dating or things I think might freak them out, like hearing multiple gunshots on my last field mission (I swear mom, it’s actually a hilarious story that I’ll reserve for Thanksgiving dinner). Though there are also times where I say too much. I’m fully convinced that the thought of his daughter phoning from a South African military base in the middle of rural Congo, saying “These guys are great! And I never pay for drinks!” freaks my dad out much more than the whole Congo/war thing.

So here it goes. A shocking confession, something that could only happen in the heart of darkness.

I ate crocodile.

That’s right. Sahara Sarah, vegetarian for 12 years, tried crocodile meat. I used to refuse to eat anything that touched meat or was spooned with a utensil that had a brush of fate with a steak. I became more of a “look the other way” vegetarian when I was living in Niger. When you are out in the field and you wait two hours for a dish of canned peas and rice, and it comes with bits of meat in it….well, I pushed the meat to the side and just pretended I didn’t see it. I also began eating fish in Niger to diversity my protein sources. No tofu in them there hills. Still, this is a long step from eating crocodile.

My friends and I were at an amazing restaurant called the Bush Camp that specializes in meat. Ostriches, pigs, cows, and yes, even crocodile. My friend ordered a crocodile meat curry skewer. He raved about it, and I figured there will not be many moments in life when I can try a bit of croc. So I had a bite. It wasn’t bad - a bit of a combo between what I know fish tastes like and what I remember meat tasting like. I only had one bite - it’s one thing to cross the vegetarian bridge, it’s another to jump off it.

What prompted my confession? I’ve met some guys I’m sure my dad would also not likely approve of, who are quite fun. They’ve been in Congo ages - spent most of their youth here, and quite like it, for many reasons. One of them (and I quote) is that you can get away with murder. They added for good measure that they would never kill anyone, but at least your options are open. These guys have invited me to go crocodile hunting with them on Friday night. My first reaction was, “You guys know I’m a vegetarian, right?” When they replied that they did, I followed up with “Are you aware of what ‘vegetarian’ means?” Incidentally, they eat the crocodiles that they kill, which makes it a bit okay in my eyes. I don’t judge your average Joe who grabs a burger at a restaurant, who’d probably freak out at the thought of killing something, skinning it, and slapping it on the grill, so who I am to judge these guys?


Blogger strudel said...

mumble mumble ..went to Salomon, Craps&Scroogy INvestiment Bank... Huge business, Croco Food plant . Farming included. Retrurn on investment ? will ask my correspondent on spot. Any ads ? Yep. EAT KROKO, WILL BITE ANY ASS. + strudel

2:09 PM  
Blogger Rolski said...

"Tastes like chicken?"

I remember sitting in a restaurant in La Rochelle with you and you very, very nearly ate a mussel.

Crocodile hunting sounds exciting, though. What do you hunt crocs with? Rifle? Very, very large hook and line?

I'm so going to describe you as "my friend Bailey, who hunts crocodiles in the Congo."

3:00 PM  
Blogger TwinSister said...

Does this put you in the same realm as Steve Erwin?

3:50 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Ah, another fall from grace in the Congo. Just wait til the CITES folks hear what you guys are up to.

Hear you might be headed Kinshasa-way soon. Be sure to give me a buzz!

10:42 AM  
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