For our first Christmas in Cameroon we wanted to do something special, something memorable that would be forever engraved on our minds. So, naturally, we slaughtered a goat for Christmas dinner. Our guard and friend Joseph headed out to the market with a fistful of inflated currency to find the perfect four-footed feast. We were all a little surprised when he returned an hour later without a goat but saying that he had purchased a nice fat one. “It’ll be delivered this afternoon.” Two days before Christmas, it had better be delivered soon or we’d be having rice and beans.
Sure enough, that afternoon a plump chevre arrived at our gate, hand delivered by the shepherd who would now betray one of his flock for a fistful of francs. We tied the goat up to a tree and waited to hear from our guard what the next steps would be. He promised that if I bought the thing, he’d do all the work. And do all of the work he did.
Our no-named goat went to sleep with his fathers on the night of Christmas eve. Poppy and Henry were eager to watch every step. As a father who’s always happy to quench my children’s thirst for knowledge I not only consented but stood by and took pictures. There came one point at which Poppy said she no longer wanted to watch: when our goat gave up the ghost. For me, too, that’s a chilling time. But, I used it as an opportunity to
lecture remind my children of the need to give thanks that God gives us animals to eat. Being this close to our food provides these sorts of opportunities that picking up a pre-packaged 1lb hermetically sealed container of ground beef doesn’t usually afford.
What a feast! Hot off the grill there was more than enough for all of us. We packaged up the leftovers and stuck them in our freezer. We told our guard that whenever he wanted some, he should just ask and we’d get some out of the freezer for him. Well, last week he asked me if we still had any meat left. I gave him a frozen ziplock bag full and advised that he leave it out all day to thaw and then that night it’d be ready to eat. (He doesn’t have a fridge or freezer.) The very next day he came to me all excited saying that he couldn’t believe that the meat tasted every bit as good then as it did two weeks earlier when we grilled it. “You’d think we’d cooked it today” he exclaimed. If I had to guess, I would say that that was probably the first time he’d ever had meat that was previously refrigerated or frozen.
Here when you buy meat you have two choices: go directly to the abattoir and buy straight from a butcher right after it’s been slaughtered, or go to the market where the meat ends up on tables and in wheelbarrows after arriving from the abattoir. We, for example, buy our meat from the market and the first time it’s refrigerated is when it reaches our door. At least you know it’s fresh.