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Snake

Many African peoples do not eat snake meat; but some do. In the Congo River region, boa are sometimes smoked so their meat can be saved for later. Smoked Boa with Pili-Pili sauce is one way to prepare the smoked snake. It is made by crushing, mixing, and then pan-frying hot chile peppers, tomatoes, and onion in a pan of hot palm oil until they are tender, then adding water, salt, and smoked boa (soaked and rinsed in water) and then simmering for half an hour or more until the sauce is thickened.


Mary Henrietta Kingsley

We had the snake for supper

In 1897, after traveling along the Atlantic coast region of Central Africa, Mary Kingsley wrote Travels in West Africa (Everyman, J. M. Dent, London; Charles E. Tuttle, Vermont, 1993). She liked snake, but reported that Africans themselves were divided. ("The Duke" is her nickname for one of her African guides.)

The first day in the forest we came across a snake (Vipera nasicornis; M'pongwe Ompenle)--a beauty with a new red-brown and yellow patterned velvety skin, about three feet six inches long and as thick as a man's thigh. Ngouta met it, hanging from a bough, and shot backwards like a lobster, Ngoute having among his many weaknesses a rooted horror of snakes. ... The Duke stepped forward and with one blow flattened its head against the tree with his gun butt, and then folded the snake up and got as much as possible into the bag, while the rest hung dangling out. We had the snake for supper, that is to say the Fan [Fang?] and I; the others would not touch it, although a good snake, properly cooked, is one of the best meats one gets out here, far and away better than the African fowl.
(On Foot through the Great Forest)


Other African gastronomical excerpts


Wole Soyinka

it was a rare pupil indeed who would claim that he had ever tasted snake

In his autobiographical novel Aké: The Years of Childhood (New York: Vintage International, Random House, 1981) Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka describes the first time he ate snake stew.

. . . Peppers were plucked from the farm, a few vegetables were prepared, a bottle of palm oil and other condiments emerged from the well-stocked barn, and, within an hour, a sizzling fragrance of snake meat ragout had overcome the smell of green leaves on the farm . . .

. . . When we began eating, I had been certain that I would not touch the snake meat. When the stew was poured into a dish however, I was astonished to find that the meat was not slimy and mottled but an attractive white, firm, yet tender-looking, with the consistency of either chicken or rabbit. I decided to taste a little and was again astonished that it tasted in between rabbit and chicken meat. I gave silent thanks for narrowly failing to deprive myself of such an unexpected treat. It was also something to boast about when I returned to Aké, feeling certain that it was a rare pupil indeed who would claim that he had ever tasted snake. Broda Pupa nodded approval at the appetite with which I now attacked the meat, pushed more pieces to my side of the dish. (IX)


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