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One man’s meat is another’s poison

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th February 2010 03:00 AM

IN 2008, when former Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Aston Kajara, made a negative comment on eating rats, legislators said his statement was malicious and called upon the appointing authority to “relocate him to his area of interest.”

IN 2008, when former Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Aston Kajara, made a negative comment on eating rats, legislators said his statement was malicious and called upon the appointing authority to “relocate him to his area of interest.”

By Simon Peter Longoli

IN 2008, when former Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Aston Kajara, made a negative comment on eating rats, legislators said his statement was malicious and called upon the appointing authority to “relocate him to his area of interest.”

Questions were raised. Are rats a delicacy or do people only eat them during famine?
Uganda has some unusual foods savoured by different people. Although the stomach cannot distinguish between a rat and a grasshopper, the palate does. Some people keep away from certain foods because of society’s perceptions, culture and environmental factors.

Sometimes, “strange” delicacies are part of the culinary repertoire of a society or region. For instance, grasshoppeprs are a delicacy in central Uganda.

Rats
Rats delight the palates of the Karimojong. Rats are not the only unlikely delicacy in Karamoja, but they are, by all means, the most profound.
The Karimojong harvest wild rats in different ways:

A small stick designed to fit with a thin thread complete with a noose is placed in the route of the animal. When a rat is trapped, it is often killed instantly.

A metallic trap set with bait is also used, mostly at night and near rat holes. In other instances, hunters dig up the holes they suspect are a hub for rats, killing them in the process. The rats are roasted or cooked. These are not filthy city rats; they are field rats.

In Karamoja, rats are eaten whether there is hunger or not. Some people prefer rats over other foods. Rats are sold in drinking joints because of their flavour and fat.

Blood
Blood is also a delicacy among the Karimojong. It is drawn from cattle, usually the fully fattened ones, using special arrows. The cattle do not die in the process.

Blood is consumed in different forms. It is usually drank when still hot. One can also mix it with milk, honey or butter.
Some people wait for the blood to clot then placed over fire.

The meal is called ethongoolot. Blood can also be cooked. For the Karimojong, as long as their cattle are healthy and there is sustainable blood supply, there is no need to worry about food shortage.

Bamboo
You are less likely to miss this dark, rope-like food popular in Mbale. Locally called malewa, the Bagishu of Eastern Uganda devour this gift of the forest.
It is harvested from bamboo trees.

The foliage is stripped off, dried and soaked to the level of decomposing. This is when it is said to get ready when cooked. It is usually cooked in groundnut paste.

Crickets
Crickets are similar to grasshoppers, but they have flattened bodies and longer antennae. They are popular among the Basoga and the Banyankole. Hunting crickets needs patience. “They are sensitive to noise and can easily change location,” a hunter says. Crickets are salted and roasted before they are eaten.

Hippopotamus
The Banyaruguru, a community in Ankole, Bushenyi district, eat hippos. The animals are hunted from Lake George and Lake Edward. The meat is first cooked.

White ants (nswa)
This seasonal insect is a delicacy in some parts of Uganda.
Most people pick white ants from termite mounds. While, some people eat white ants raw, most prefer to fry them.

Hides (enkuru)
The Banyankole eat cattle hides. The fur is removed from fresh hides and the skin left to decompose before cooking.

Bee larvae
The Banyankole target hives for honey and bee larvae. The larvae is mashed and cooked to make soup or sauce.
When deep-fried, the larvae looks like popcorn

Eshabwe
It is made from ghee, rock salt and cold water. Eshabwe is a delicacy in western Uganda, especially among the Bahima.

Squirrels
These animals are eaten by the Lugbara, Iteso and Karimojong. The Iteso train their dogs to hunt squirrels. Asked if she eats them, a woman says: “Do you think I am a Lugbara?

Grasshoppers: The irresistible delicacy
Grasshoppers (nsenene)
With a football club named after this delicacy and men beating their wives over grasshoppers, nsenene is valued, especially in central Uganda.
Traditionally, women collected grasshoppers, prepared them and served their husbands.

In appreciation, a man would reward his wife with a new gomesi (a traditional dress).

Some women were not allowed to eat grasshoppers because it was believed they would “cause a miscarriage”.
Grasshoppers are commonly hunted at night. They are mostly transported to the city and its surrounding for sale.

Grasshoppers are sold expensively.
They are considerably reducing and environmental experts say it is because of environmental degradation.

Preparation starts with plucking off the insects’ wings, washing in warm water and frying. During preparation, nsenene is usually spiced with onions and salt.

Lamb’s or calf’s brains
These are commonly sold by butchers, and sought after by many a housewife in practically all Middle East countries. Chinese have eaten extremely tough and sour-tasting camel humps, feet and meat for centuries.

The hump is first marinated and then roasted. Feet are boiled with herbs and served with a vinaigrette dressing.
Caterpillars and silkworms
Fried caterpillars and silkworms are crunchy. Both are available in North American shops.

Sea food
Seal blubber and whale fat are tasty. Cod tongues and seal flipper pie are Newfoundland specialties, commonly consumed in restaurants

Octopus
In Japan, it is considered a sign of strength and bravery to eat a raw, slimy, slithering octopus. Contestants in this battle of the wills are served a live baby octopus, wrapped around chopsticks or served on a plate, and are expected to be able to chew and swallow the writhing animal as it fights for its life to lodge itself in the person’s throat.

Atom.com says up to six people die each year in Korea due to their love of the eight-tentacled treat. Even when the baby live octopus is butchered into bits, the tight, fibrous tentacle pieces continue to experience muscle spasms and can make swallowing the chopped-up creature very difficult.

Scorpion
This is actually eaten in Vietnam. Scorpion soup is quite popular there and is served with scorpions appearing in full shape.

Spiders
In Cambodia as well as other parts of the world, certain spiders are consumed as a special treat. They are rich in protein but hard to come by, so they are more of a special snack than a staple. The taste when well fried is said to be good.

Elephant meat is tough, but its trunk and feet are not. In Asia and Africa, locusts are said to taste like shrimps and traditionally eaten with”wild” honey.
These foods, though considered weird and bizarre in some societies, are a delicacy in other regions.


One man’s meat is another’s poison

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