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July 2, 2008 Bones

Food doesn’t get wasted here. I hadn’t really thought about how much waste there is in most American kitchens until I saw how efficient my host families have been.

Example: Before they wash out a tawa (cook pot / sauce pan), they take a piece of bread and sop up the leftover food. Why wash down the drain half a meal’s worth of calories and nutrients? (This is also one reason why Ama rarely eats with the guests when there’s a big meal – she’ll eat her fill as she cleans the kitchen.)

Another example: Whenever they eat meat served on the bone, as happens frequently, they’ll crack open the bones and suck out the marrow. I’ve heard that marrow is good for you, but I’ve never seen it pursued so vigorously. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sight of my little host sister, a delicately-built five-year-old, gnawing on a bone longer than her head with her tiny milk-teeth. (She’d scored the big thigh bone from the latest sheep.)

Intestines, too, are appreciated. I’ve seen them served a couple of ways, most memorably diced up into half-inch sections and skewered onto shish kebabs. I asked about a particularly crimson cut of meat, and was told that it was the kidneys. (It took a lot of charades to figure out what the word meant – organs weren’t covered when we studied body parts.) I haven’t seen the “man of the cow”*, at least not that I was aware, but my tutor confirms that it’s consumed just like any other meat.

The skins are treated and then used as extra rugs. They’re very comfortable to sit on, and more easily portable than the big rectangular tazrbits that line every room in the house.

* That was the translation offered by a friend’s English-speaking host brother, when she asked him what was on her plate. She told us the story the next day – this was back during CBT – and the rest of us have used that euphemism since then. If it’s not clear, I’ll try an American euphemism: Rocky Mountain Oysters. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about…you’re probably better off.

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps