048: Fuko Feast

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Fuko, A Giant African Mole

“Ba Joseph, Right?” Chelsi double checked with the new acquaintance standing in front of her.
“Yes.  You know when I first heard that you had come I thought, Ahh but this isn’t for me.  Especially fish farming.  But I think what is was, is that I just didn’t have the time.  Now I’m thinking I am ready.”
“That is absolutely fantastic!” This was the way Chelsi wished it happened more often.  The she is just out weeding her garden and people just walk up her path and say that they are ready to learn.  “We can get started right now. I didn’t have any plans this morning.”
The tall man’s face twisted up a bit.  “Or, you can come tomorrow.  But while you’re here you should at least come see the example pond.  It’s just there.” Chelsi pointed into the bush at his back. “I’ll show you.”
“Okay, but I think I’ll also come back with my notebook on Friday.” Chelsi was listening but started walking away.
“Friday’s fine.  Hold on I’m just going to get my shoes.”
When she returned and the two turned up the path, Daisy came running up to them, furiously investigating the new comer with her nose.  “I’m afraid of dogs.” What Zambian isn’t afraid of dogs?
“Well you’re doing great, cause I couldn’t tell. And you don’t have to worry about Daisy.  This is my dog.  She just excited, but she won’t hurt you.  She’ll come with us to the pond.”  It had been some weeks since Chelsi had been to visit the ponds, and the grass on the path to the trees was so over grown, standing six feet tall, she had to guide her student walking backwards through it.  Once they reached the tree line the grass subsided and they could walk comfortable side by side.  Daisy went running on up ahead.
They chatted a bit. Joseph explained how he stayed in town but had his farm just past her house. Chelsi told him about Peace Corps and the role of volunteers in the community.  When suddenly, Daisy came bounding out of the bush, a big fuzzy ball in her mouth.  She set it down on the path to better sniff at it.
“We eat that!” Joseph exclaimed pointing and running towards Daisy.  The animal twitching on the ground was a shape Chelsi couldn’t really describe; Fat and stout? More like a Zambian cucumber though, with fur. “Just wait.” Joseph stomped on the critters head till it quit moving.  Then Chelsi picked it up.  The body was still warm in her hand.
“It’s a giant mole,” Daisy jumped, futilely trying to reclaim her prize.  “Good girl Daisy,” Chelsi patted her on the head. 
“Yes, it is a mole.  In kiikaonde we call it Fuko.” The two continued on to see the fish pond

After making plans to meet again and Joseph left, Chelsi commenced with the business of preparing the meat.  She cut the hide from around the hindlegs and started to peel it from the layers of fat and meat.  I always knew all the practice butchering would pay off.  Between this and the poor dove from last month.  She knew most volunteers would have handed the catch off to their host family’s to prepare, settling for a bit or two of the finished dish.  There can’t be more than a handful of bit to this thing either, she thought as struggling the hide over the substantial head.  The meat was a dark red, and smells a bit like a swamp. There was still a lot of excitement in her for tasting it, but she didn’t have high hopes.
After the intestines where unpacked and the suspicious innards where divided up among her animals, she dropped the naked mole into a brine. She was expecting another volunteer, Craig, for dinner today, but that was still some hours away.  A brine is probably the best way to keep it.
When all was done and cleaned up, she hoped on her bike to meet up with a farmer for an afternoon gardening lesson.

By the time Chelsi and Daisy returned to the house their shadows were long under the sun, and Craig sat on the bench of her front porch. 
“Alright! You made it, I thought maybe you’d let yourself in.” Chelsi let her bicycle roll to a stop. 
“We just got here a few minutes ago.  Oh and when I go here, that white cat is yours?”
“Yeah, it’s annoying as hell though.”
“Well it was sitting on your bird house.” Chelsi’s heart sank and the commotion level sky rocketed when Daisy discovered the little ball of black fuzz Craig was cradling in his lap. 
“Oh, I’m going to kill the thing,” Chelsi shouted over the barking and hissing. “It’s been eyeing my birds all week.” She ditched her bike and walk around to the side of her house. She could tell something had disturbed the flock.  They all sat stark still on the roof of her house.  Seven, yes the whole flock.  She inspected a little closer under the bird house.  Delicate white eggshells speckled the ground. Chelsi walked back over to Craig.  “You’ve got to take him with you when you go.  I can’t have him here anymore.”  She grabbed her white cat, meowing, off the bench and the dog, barking and locked them in the house.
“Well, this little guy hasn’t shown any interest in birds.”  He held up a tiny black kitten. It looked at her frightened; blue eyes ringed in yellow. Poppy had prettier eyes.
“Thanks man.” She took the seat next to him.  “We’ve got a special dinner tonight.  Daisy caught a giant mole this morning.  I know how you like your meet chewy.”

After they had settled in and the animals had become acquainted with each other, Chelsi set Craig to chopping vegetable while she set up the stove.  “So apparently I did this wrong. Or not wrong, but non-traditional.”
“What do you mean?” Craig briefly looked up from his potatoes.
“Well, when I was talking to Kennie’s wife at our gardening lesson today I was telling her about it. And apparently, you’re supposed to prepare a fuko like a pig; where you sear the outside, scrape off the hair then butterfly it open and roast it.” And this made sense to Chelsi, there was a lot of fat between the skin and the meat. “I didn’t know, so I did what I’d do with any fuzzy animal and skinned it.  But I bet the skin will make a great puppet when it’s done!”  Always look for the bright side.
“I think I probably doesn’t matter that much,” Craig confessed.
“Yeah, and we can’t really roast anything anyway.” The stove hot, she plopped on pot of water. “So we’re just going to boil it.”

With a little cooking and fragrant herbs, the swampy smell disappeared. 
“This is delicious.” Craig said pulling the meat off one of the hind legs.
“I know! And it’s not even chewy.  Who would have guessed that dirt and roots, and whatever else moles eat, would make you so tender.”
The two ate to their satisfaction, then divided the remained among their animals.  Stomachs full they settle back in their chairs to enjoy each other’s company.  

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Categories: Action, Adventure, Food & Recipes, Horror, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “048: Fuko Feast

  1. Sandy

    Love hearing about your daily adventures with cooking, birds, Daisy and people!
    Sending love
    Xoxo

    Like

  2. Jean A Thomas

    It’s funny, I was just going to say how much I enjoy your stories when I saw your other comment!.. you are a good story teller!

    Like

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