Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Strange things to eat

Disclaimer: you may not want to read this if you are eating right now.

Life at the Hogar consists of eating lots of less than satisfying meals.  I’ve got a pretty strong stomach, though, and have been a trooper.  I’ve had plenty of liver.  I’ve eaten a duck rib cage that still had the lungs and large blood vessels intact.  I’ve had pork that still had the hide attached (and it was hairy).  Soup with chicken feet.  Soup with chicken feet the following day, which means the feet started to fall apart and I pulled a chicken claw out of my mouth.  Bread with hair baked in.  Cartilage can be found in any chicken dish.  The beef is sometimes more tendon than meat.  Sardines.  And a traditional corn tea that they add starch to here at the Hogar to make it gelatinous and call it a meal.  But I’ve eaten all of this.

Today, I met my match.  I peaked into the dining hall and got excited.  It looked like cucumber salad, rice and fried chicken.  That should have been my clue.  We only have individual servings of meat on Sunday.  I thought maybe it was a holiday I’d missed.  So we pray outside with the girls and in we go.  I immediately realize that not only is it not fried chicken, it’s not even really meat.  It looked like chicken skin folded, breaded and fried.  One bite in and I smell and taste sheep.  Not mutton or lamb.  But a living, breathing sheep.  Ugh.  I gave it two more tries, but then gave up.  I felt like I was eating a sheep barn.

When a five year waved her piece at me and yelled “Barriga!” or belly, I figured out that we had been served the omasum of some animal (probably sheep or cow).  For those of you who don’t know what that is (and, to show my past professors that I didn’t forget everything), the omasum is the third chamber of the stomach in a ruminant animal.  These are the animals that you have been incorrectly told that have 4 stomachs.  They have only one stomach with 4 diverse chambers.  Ruminants include cattle, sheep, giraffes, etc.  The omasum has many folds and functions to remove water from the fermented material of the previous stomach chamber.  And it tastes awful.  I would tell you to try it, just to say that you had, but it might be hard to come by in the States.

All in all, not a terrible experience.  At least I have a good story.  So…enjoy your next meal!


  1. Ah, Andrea, you've reminded me of (one reason) why I never wanted to BE a missionary, just to give them my moral support!

  2. haha! Andrea! I had Barriga a couple weeks ago! It smelt so bad, and tasted worse, but the priests love it. I was asked if there was a food in Brazil I didn't like last week, and that was the only thing that came to mind. The liver, tongue, etc really aren't that bad...right?