Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eating when you're hungry

These boys have just had a successful hunt for a hedgehog and a rat.

While the vast majority of food consumed in the village is millet, people supplement their diets with other things as often as possible. "Often" isn't as often as anyone would like, but they make do with what they can, when they can. Some common diversions to the regular millet routine include sweet potatoes (purchased at markets in the city) from December-March, mangoes from April-June, ansa berries (green bean-like things that grow in the bush) in June-July, locusts (caught in the fields) and wild greens from July-September, and anything else that can be caught, hunted, or picked year-round.

So what do people hunt and catch around here? I see a lot of young guys, around age 15, heading out in the evenings to hunt rabbits, rats, mice, hedgehogs, lizards, and birds. They use slingshots to hit and stun all and any of the above, and finish the job with a rock or a stick. I've seen Fachi's son, Amadou, spend hours meticulously rigging up a trap to catch birds; he used rubber bands, cardboard, and string to fashion a sort of trapdoor/headbanger thing. It took me awhile to get used to seeing boys carrying home hedgehogs and rats to cook up, but I'm used to it now. The boys are invariably cheered by their bounty, so it's hard not to share in their excitement.

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