It’s Friday and time for another edition of It Could Only Happen To Me – the weekly series where I feature those travel mishaps which happen to us all at one time or another on the road. In light of the current horse meat scandal in the UK, I thought I’d write about my own personal trauma of eating an unidentified meat this week.
I was in China where, to be fair, you eat a lot of strange looking food which you can’t always readily identify.
I was working in a foster home when a guest came in to offer the volunteers some food. This, again, is not unusual in China. Food is often given as gifts. Another time, when I was working at the school in Kaifeng, the headteacher’s mother sent an entire cooked chicken (complete with head) in for me. It was a very kind gesture but the fact that I had to keep it in my backpack for the duration of a boiling hot day wasn’t great.
Anyway, I digress. Back in the foster home our guests opened up a packet and began passing around a dark red meat for everyone to try. We all took a piece and were soon discussing how nice it tasted and trying to figure out what it was. The lady who had offered it to us didn’t speak any English so we tried asking her son.
“Um…” he looked a bit worried. “I don’t know the word in English but it is like a house.”
A house? We all looked at one another, trying to figure out what he could mean.
“You know, a house.” He began to make ear shapes on top of his head with his hands.
“Oh,” someone in the group realised, “Do you mean a horse?”
“Yes, yes, a horse. Like a horse.”
We all looked at one another as realisation dawned. Had we just eaten donkey?
It turned out we had indeed eaten donkey, apparently a local delicacy. I, for one, was quite traumatised by this revelation because, as well as growing up in a town which has an annual Skipping Day, we also have donkey rides on our beach in Scarborough. As a little girl, this had somehow led to me having an imaginary donkey called Lala, which used to follow me around.
So in the long line of ridiculous It Could Only Happen To Mes which happened to me on my 30b430 trip, it turned out I had probably just eaten the brother of my childhood imaginary pet.