Diverse cultures, diverse food

Three unnamed ducks. Photo: Eric Weiss

Three unnamed ducks. Photo: Eric Weiss

I was delighted by this post on the Peace Corps Facebook page. The post and the hundreds of responses showcase the wonderful diversity of the human diet.

Food in Panama is generally not so…leggy as it is in many places around the world, but cow brains and chicken feet were regular menu items in our village.

Our landlord, Julián, loved to tease us about our vegetarian diet by introducing us to the carnivorous aspects of Panamanian cuisine.

One day he walked carefully down the path between our houses with a plate in his hands and a wicked smile on his face. As he grew close, we could see that, on the plate was the head and neck of a large duck, plucked and cooked, but expertly posed, as though it was casually resting on the plate while the remainder of its body went for a nice swim.

Julián explained that stuffed duck head was prepared for pregnant women near their due date. The dish was supposed to facilitate an easy delivery.

When Julián had returned home with his duck head, my husband and I turned to each other in horror, exclaiming in unison, “That was Dave!” Dave was a drake who frequented the drainage ditch by our porch. He had an unmistakably gnarled face.

We never named another duck again.

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