I got home from Laos to find the usual litany of problems with the house: something had gone wrong with the washing machine and we were waiting for a new part to be delivered; the kitchen wall cabinets had tried to fall off the wall (fortunately my maid heard the process begin and managed to get there in time to support them for long enough to remove the contents) and whilst they had been secured in my absence none of the doors now closed as the whole unit was skew-whiff; one of the guards had stolen an iron from the garage; and my house phone had been disconnected as my employers had neglected to pay the line rental one month when I was away. On the bright side the tomato plant had started to produce baby tomatoes and the oranges were just about ripe enough to make juice from.
It had turned surprisingly cold – not in the daytime when I could still go out in short sleeves, but in the evening when I had to dig out a jumper to put on when I went into the kitchen (the slatted windows, which seem to hold in the heat during the hot humid summer months, somehow seem to let in all the cold breezes during the winter).
As ever there is loads of work to do, so when I finally finished in the office yesterday I was looking forward to a plate of pasta and pumpkin with some cheap red wine before curling up under the bed-covers for an early night. I grabbed a warm fleece and went into the kitchen – and was most surprised to be faced by a goat. Not the whole animal – the skin, hooves, head and digestive tract had gone – but still quite a lot of goat.
When asked about Senegalese food by local people I usually bemoan the lack of goat meat available in Dakar. It’s delicious meat, and I’ve enjoyed eating it in all sorts of countries from Pakistan to Mauritania, so have been quite disappointed to find that I can’t buy it here. Apparently it is eaten in the countryside, especially in the south, but the Dakarois are too posh to eat ‘peasant food’ and prefer mutton. But it seems that one of Gloria’s sons had managed to find one for me – a live one, but I was relieved that he had had it killed, skinned, etc before he delivered it to my house as I’m not sure whether I could bring myself to kill a goat.
So Gloria and I hacked away at the carcass with my best Sabatier knife and I now have a freezer full of goat portions. I recently made a new friend here in Dakar, an Englishman who works at the British Embassy – poor guy doesn’t yet know he is about to be invited round as a guinea pig this weekend to try my roast goat leg with mashed sweet potato…