Wednesday, December 5, 2007

i don't eat grasshoppers

there are two other french guys i hang out with at my hotel - the french guy who gets hit on by the wait staff and christian from the UN who just arrived saturday. we'll have cocktails by the pool, talk about france, comment on the weirdness of being here. we're comfortable enough now to make fun of eachother, notably they mocking me for feeding/befriending random animals (just you wait until i go to the venemous snake place next weekend).
on sunday we finally ventured outside the hotel walls on foot. i walked in the middle, these two tall guys at either side. we made it to the end of the hotel driveway and securely scanned the empty horizon for anything of interest. a guy cooking some manioc, some dudes leaning against a wall and people pushing a car, all typical. across the street was this decrepit supermarket that appears to be open only sometimes. there's an overgrown parking lot with busted up cars and some funny beer ads on the walls "turbo king! pour l'homme d'affaires!" but if you go to the end of this vacant lot you happen upon a little restaurant in a cute garden with little huts housing plastic tables and chairs. it's called the Marquis de GB. there's a disgusting outhouse, a small soccer field, a nursery, and a sad grey parrot in a cage who tried to bite me. the service is interminably slow, but it lets us take our african time, around 2.5 hours for dinner. gilles always needs a receipt everywhere he goes, which has proven impossible so me and christian write them out, varying our handwriting, inventing the restaurant logo. the menu has an odd mix of local dishes, unique french stuff like frog's legs and greek food. i don't touch the salad (learned my lesson!), but the kebabs and fries are good - they are served hanging from a metal hook. they also have espresso, something you can't find anywhere else. we eat all our meals there, since the hotel food is iffy. the round trip walk is about 1/4 mile, the most i've walked since i've been here! we stroll very leisurely for this exact reason.

the other night we were walking back after dinner and there were some guys hanging around one of the lightposts, below a swarm of bats and moths. the guys were collecting these huge grasshoppers and stuffing them into jars. i look at the one of the jars closely, the grasshoppers with their gleaming eyes all smooshed up against this old jam jar. what for? i ask. to eat. grilled. tasty! bon appetit! thanks in advance! UN guy tells me how he's eaten huge caterpillars and moths in eastern DRC. a delicacy.
when we got back to the hotel for a nightcap i saw a bunch of grasshoppers drowning in the pool. they're huge, so gross. i don't think i could ever eat one. as i got closer the hawk-like birds that putter around (i found out they're called 'milan' in french, anyone know what that is?) were verrrry interested. i picked one out with a glass, spilled it on the ground and the birds pounced on it, grabbing it with their claws and ripping off the heads and slowly enjoying the rest of the body. edible for most, just not for me.


Anonymous said...

Le milan est un oiseau de la famille des Accipitridae. Cinq espèces ont été répertoriées sur la planète.

Le milan noir et le milan royal vivent à l'état naturel en France, où ils ont le statut d'espèces protégées.

Le milan noir - Milvus migrans (Boddaert, 1783)
Le milan royal - Milvus milvus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Le milan à plastron - Hamirostra melanosternon
Le milan siffleur - Haliastur sphenurus
Le milan brun - Milvus lineatus (Gray, 1831)
Sa mere, la bibliothecaire

Anonymous said...

Milan (suite)
Petite histoire

Jusqu’aux xvie et xviie siècles, le milan royal faisait la voirie dans des villes comme Paris ou Londres. Louis XIII chassait en vol le milan royal à l’aide de faucons gerfauts dans la plaine Saint-Denis et relâchait ses prises par la fenêtre depuis le Louvre après avoir coupé les deux rectrices centrales (premier exemple de marquage !). D’où son nom de milan royal, parce que son vol était réservé à l’équipage royal. Ce devait être un oiseau extrêmement abondant avant l’invention du fusil !