Cat

Scratch another one off the list: cat. I know it has been said a million times, but, it kind of tastes like chicken; only better.

A couple weeks ago I was drinking the local equivalent of beer (Tchouck… see a picture of me drinking it posted a few months ago) and talking with a couple Togolese friends about meat. We ended up on the subject of dog and cat. I eat dog a couple times a week. It’s a darker meat that tastes a lot like roast beef. (One of these days I want to get some, make a nice brown sauce, and put it all onto a piece of toasted bred. Sooooo good! ) After some discussion we figured out that for the equivalent of about $10 we could get a dog and a cat and have a party.

I am always ready and willing to try new things. I firmly believe in the “you must try everything once’ mantra (except baby birds on a stick in the south of China… I’ll leave that one for my adventurous little brother). After some discussion we decided to have a party where we would have a dog and cat killed and roasted, a bottle of fermented palm wine (a drink with an amazing flavor and very strong, moon shine, type kick) and Tchouck. I offered to put down the local equivalent of around $20 to pay for everything including the gas (crazy expensive these days!) for my friend to go to surrounding villages on his motorcycle and buy all our intended victims.

I got a call this morning around 9:00am from my friend saying, “We have the dog and cat! Do you want to come watch us prepare it?” Thankfully I had a Peace Corps friend in town and declined. I am down with eating dog and cat. I just really don’t want to see someone slit their throats and throw their dead carcasses over a fire. I said I would be there around 1pm.

I met my friend around the appointed time and we started walking to the house of the person who had taken care of the preparation. On the walk we were talking about animals eating the meat of other animals. At one point the two Togolese guys I was with said, “Cats will eat cat. No problem. But good dogs won’t eat other dogs. Bad dogs yes. But good dogs no.” I could not believe that dogs could somehow know that a piece of meat sitting in front of them was dog and not eat it. I wouldn’t believe it.

We got to my friends house, went inside and sat down on the great red velvet covered lounge chairs he has (I would love to know what sleazy 70s lounge these chairs came from!) He bent over behind the table in front of us and pulled out a black, very full plastic bag and a covered stainless steel bowl. He picked up the bowl, walked over to where we were, and with the smile of a proud parent, opened the lid. I leant over, looked inside and saw the head of a small animal, its mouth wide open, teeth daring anyone to touch it, tongue sticking out in a horrid death pose, staring back at me. This was the cat.

I looked over the assorted pieces of what I had, until this point, only experienced as an entire being. I finally reached into the pot of meat and tomato/onion sauce and grabbed what looked to be a leg.

I waited for everyone else to get a piece, looked down, and took a bite. It was amazing! I hate to say it, but, cat has to be one of my favorite meats. It has a taste of chicken yet with a richer, more savory flavor. The leg was probably the most tender, juicy pieces of meat that I have eaten in a long long time. I sit here now, hours later, craving the taste of the juice spurting into my mouth.

After we ate our piece we each had a shot of the distilled palm wine, ate a piece of dog (total let down after the wonderful, delicate flavor of the cat) and looked down at the bone, now devoid of meat, sitting in each of our hands. The owner of the house took the bones, pulled aside the curtain covering the door, and walked over to the two dogs tied to a tree and threw them the cat bones. They ate them with the relish that only a starving Togolese dog could. When he walked back to where we were all standing, I looked at the bag of dog meat in his hand, then at the two dogs, smiled, and said, “Give them a little dog meat.” He smiled, reached into the bag, pulled out a morsel of freshly cooked dog meat and threw it to the two chained animals. It was amazing. The first dog left his cat bone, walked over to the meat, smelt it, and walked away. I had NEVER seen a dog turn down meat. He knew it was dog! The second one though, walked over, smelt it, and greedily swallowed it in one go. I looked at my friend as I saw this and he said, “He’s not a good dog. But the other, he’s good.” The bad dog ate the meat and the other didn’t. It was true!

We finally ended up a few houses down sitting on wooden benches under a mango tree, small table in front of us, and bowls of tchouck resting in their plastic holders at our feet. My friend set the bag of dog meat on the table, put some very spicy powder (I am actually learning to love spicy food) down next to it, and took the first piece. As we ate other people came over, took a couple pieces, and went back to drinking.

A couple hours later all the dog was done, a couple bowls of tchouck was in each of our bellies, and we were ready to go home.

As I biked home I thought of a wonderful sandwich that would probably taste close to the shredded pork sandwiches my grandmother makes and I crave on a daily basis…

BBQ Shredded Cat

Ps. Despite my last two entries being either about castrating a cat or eating a cat I do in fact love them. My cat and I are both doing very well after our (his) traumatic experience. Thanks for all of your emails and messages concerned about his and my well being!

22 comments:

Gary said...

Did you ever get the Joy of Cooking I sent you? Being the amazingly complete cookbook it is, I'm thinking you might be able to find a couple of good cat bar-b-que recipes in it. Florida Feline Roast, and maybe Memphis Style Cat-Be-Que. Let me know.

africanox said...

Aaron,

Great story about la viande du chat et le veterinaire. It sounds like that's the same guy I used for my dog issues. Such a great guy...be sure to saluer him again de ma part. I haven't read this blog in a while, and it was great to get a dose of Sokode this morning. Keep up the good work, and let me know if you need anything. -Gavin africanox@yahoo.com

JoAnn said...

Aaron,

Knowing how much you like cats, I found this one hard to believe! How are the cats doing that we got at the Garrett County Animal Shelter?

My cousin, Mark Jackson, is now in Burkina Faso. His wife, Jeanine, is the new ambassador. I sent him an e-mail and gave him your contact info.

Hope you don't get multiple postings of this comment. I'm quite new to blogging.

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