Colo Kebab

“Heh,  I am Daniel; speak English alright”

It was a humid 37 degrees; a cool day in the jungle the locals tell me; and I was hungry. After nothing but airline food and snacks for two days the sizzling white meat on Daniel’s kebabs looked delicious. It was my first day in central Africa and I had been warned against eating meat from roadside stalls but Daniel’s bulking figure looked friendly enough so I had a closer look at his wares while we fuelled the vehicles.

“So it’s chicken huh, smells good!”
“Yes, yes, very good; best spices”
“So it’s chicken, yes?”
“Yes, no chicken, good meat, Colo”

He held his large hands about two feet apart and indicated a humped back, “Colo, no English, like Hedgehog, but bigger, you know Colo?”
“Porcupine, you mean”, I say while failing desperately to mime sharp quills.
“Ah! Porcupine, no monkey – meat good, make you strong”

The meat was sweet and moist, fresh off the coals – a perfect unexpected snack on the side of a dirt road deep in the jungle. I stopped at Daniel’s stall every week for the three months I worked there and his ready smile and juicy jungle kebabs never failed to please me. It was only on the day I was leaving for good, after I’d finished my last kebab, that I discovered the truth.

“I’m going to miss your kebabs, Daniel – no porcupine in my country”
“Hey brother, I mean to tell you, my wife she speaks better English and she tell me – word for Colo not porcupine, Colo means Cane Rat”


Posted in 2012-08-27 to 2012-09-09 - Food from Foreign Climes | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Colo Kebab

  1. steve says:

    Very groovy. Classic trope. I like the very conversational style. I can imagine this story being told over a cup of coffee, maybe at an airport to a friend who’s about to head to the same place!

    Some biographical elements here, no? Can’t recall if it was you or your brother, though…

  2. andrew says:

    Yeah biographical sort of by proxy (aren’t all stories) – glad the tone worked for you, very unpolished for me.