Beninese Omnivore

This is a moto-cag driver who is holding the head of a dead pig.  This is the place I always get pork from when I go to Bohicon.

This is a moto-cag driver who is holding the head of a dead pig. This is the place I always get pork from when I go to Bohicon.

Showing off my delicious dinner before preparation.

Showing off my delicious dinner before preparation.

If you want you can by freshly cut pork meat, and by freshly cut I mean it is chopped up each morning.  There are usually flies all over it, so make sure you cook it well.

If you want you can by freshly cut pork meat, and by freshly cut I mean it is chopped up each morning. There are usually flies all over it, so make sure you cook it well.

This is the nasty smoked fish you will find in nearly every market.  I have refused to eat it since arrival in Benin.

This is the nasty smoked fish you will find in nearly every market. I have refused to eat it since arrival in Benin.

My coworkers and I often take a midday break and walk across the road to the local bar which also usually serves fried chicken with some sort of filler.  Today it looks like we are having pate rouge and chicken.

My coworkers and I often take a midday break and walk across the road to the local bar which also usually serves fried chicken with some sort of filler. Today it looks like we are having pate rouge and chicken.

Excited for dinner.  A hunter caught these rabbits in the bush and sold them to my neighbor for 3000 mille , which is roughly 6$ for the two.

Excited for dinner. A hunter caught these rabbits in the bush and sold them to my neighbor for 3000 mille , which is roughly 6$ for the two.

My office goes next door to get pate rouge and chicken for lunch.  We enjoy all eating together.

My office goes next door to get pate rouge and chicken for lunch. We enjoy all eating together.

Looking out my front door one day I found three visitors as well as my neighbor all hanging out on my porch.

Looking out my front door one day I found three visitors as well as my neighbor all hanging out on my porch.

In front of my house.  Free-range turkeys roam wild.

In front of my house. Free-range turkeys roam wild.

This is in front of my house.  There are often wandering animals, that always look so tasty.  Here is a pig.

This is in front of my house. There are often wandering animals, that always look so tasty. Here is a pig.

The chicken I eat is usually cooked in the mornings, and then it is kept in this bin to prevent flies from getting to it.  Yummy fried chicken!

The chicken I eat is usually cooked in the mornings, and then it is kept in this bin to prevent flies from getting to it. Yummy fried chicken!

Being from the Midwest United States has provided me with a palate that is very fond of meats, but in particular the great red meat of beef. Upon filling out our initial applications for Peace Corps, one of the questions asked if we were vegetarian. There are many volunteers in Benin who are vegetarians, but I need more than just beans to get my source of protein. Food is something that is often on my mind, but since I can’t eat American food for some time I am writing this blog to remind myself of what we can get here in Benin.

When I talk with other meat-eating volunteers the same topic often seems to come up. Whenever we see a goat, sheep, pig, or cow (sometimes even other types of animals, but never dogs or cats because we still view them to be domestic animals) we think about how delicious it would be to kill it and eat it. This is definitely not the way I viewed animals before coming to Benin. Dinner was always neatly wrapped sitting on the refrigerated shelves in an air-conditioned supermarket. Also, the cuts we buy in grocery stores in the U.S. are incomparable to the parts of animals we eat here. The tough skin of cows and pigs is a delicacy here. You are very lucky to find more meat than fat or bones on a cut of meat here. This is likely caused by the malnourished animals you are eating, but hey at least they aren’t given all those hormones like in the great US of A.

Finding meat in Benin is all relative to where you live. Each region is different. Luckily I have plenty of Fulani people in my area who raise cows and sheep and then sell the meat on the main road through my village. Each night they cook up the meat over charcoal and sell thinly cut pieces to those who have the taste for flesh. There are also a few places in and near my village where a pig is butchered every day and you can get fresh pig meat (no bacon though). I don’t want to leave out what is slowly becoming my new favorite meat, chicken. Chicken are abundant in village many of them wander about aimlessly pecking at the ground looking for insects or anything edible they can find. You ask… “How do people know what chicken belongs to who?” Each chicken either has some sort of tissue or ribbon tied around their legs or wings so people know whose chicken is whose. The communal lifestyle relies on trust, so it is not likely that your neighbors will steal your chickens. Another popular bird to eat is guinea fowl. It is an ugly looking bird that also meanders about the village.

On top of these meats that we deem pretty normal to eat, there are also a few exceptions here in Benin. Slowly surpassing my love for chicken is rabbit. I cannot believe that rabbit is not more popular in the states. It is absolutely wonderful! It is definitely the other white meat. If you cook it right, it can be so tender. I have rabbit at least once a week. Finally, here comes the weird stuff. Bush rat, is very popular especially in village. It is slightly sweet and somewhat like rabbit. I have had guinea pig when I was in Peru, and it is much better than that. There is more meat and it is not very gamey like guinea pig. Some meats that I haven’t tried that other volunteers have told me about are snake, antelope (which I will definitely try when I go to visit other volunteers in the north), and some volunteers in the north have eaten dog. The dog eating came as a surprise to them. They did not seek it out. They were given a plate of sauce and mystery meat and asked how it was, afterwards they were told it was dog. I’m not planning on eating any dog while I am in Africa, but I guess I need to be sure I know what I am eating before I begin. Fish: I have only had fish once when I was near the ocean and it was awesome. Most of this fish here is dried and makes me gag so I really do my best to avoid it at all costs. So, I hope you now have a little idea of what I am eating here in Benin. Cheers!

Advertisements

About le exploreteur

Since a very young age I have always been fascinated by the uniqueness of different cultures in our world. Life is too short to live within your own bubble. I believe that it is in human nature to explore and learn about the unknown.
This entry was posted in Benin Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Beninese Omnivore

  1. Lois says:

    Very interesting. I have heard many back home say that rabbit is good but have never had it myself. Sounds like you are not afraid to try most things at least. We definitely do not appreciate the good foods we do have available to us here back home.

  2. Lori Hoesing says:

    I did not care for the guinea pig nor the alpaca we had in Peru. Are you still living without refrigeration or did you buy a small refrigerator? I cannot image not having a refrigerator in that warm weather. We miss you! We will have a nice, juicy steak for you when you get home!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s