Zebu hoof soup

There is not much that I wont eat or cant, over the years I have developed quite a strong constitution as well as mentally I can switch off to what I am eating in order to get it down. The most important thing is that you have to eat in order to survive. If I think back, there has been horse, dog, donkey, snake, cut worms and many other exotic tastes and smells that I have managed to stomach.

Last night just pushed me over the edge. It has been a long hard week of 237km of difficult swamp bashing. Relentless rain and the continued onslaught of bugs and insects’. Hungry tired and really needing rest and a hearty meal I made my way down the dingy lit muddy street to meet nick and the crew. All towns in rural Madagascar are ram shackled just managing to stand upright, all new structures are slapped together with wood wire and corrugated iron sheets. These are normally the new appendages to a town and often the hub of business the market and taxi stop. This is also the best place to head to eat. Dingy dirty, but good grub. Passing the first shack, as usual the cooked food is on display, punctuated with a nice garnish of flies. Big bowl of steaming broth, noodles and a bowl of what looked like fried beef in chunks.

In we went found a few stools, after brushing the scrapes, bones and leftovers off the table we sat down and ordered the house special, soup. A large steaming bowl arrived full to the brim. It looked really appetising but dam, the smell was nauseating. Holding my breath I knew that often the smell was bad, but it tasted ok. I gave it a big stir releasing more of the pungent outdoor and hooked something with my spoon. Lifting it for inspection, out came half a cows hoof with a trail of jelly like substance oozing from it. Holding back, I then dug my spoon in again, this time for my first taste.

Slowly lifting my spoon to my mouth, I began to breathe out through my nose, the trick that I have learnt so that the smell and taste are not so strong. The fluid hit my lips, swirling over my teeth and onto my tongue. The smell has already got to be, but my tongue twisted and writhed under the overpowering taste that ensued. Something very dead and decomposed had been boiled up and every cell in my body was rejecting it. Somehow I swallowed and down this toxic brew went, looking up at my smiling Malagasy friend, who was well into his bowl, but slowing in pace, he politely said, “I think the soup is not good today”.

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