Saturday, July 31, 2010
Living In Malaysia: Bidayus Don't Eat Crocodile
In Asia you can find some unusual food on the table. I won't eat anything that's protected or endangered, but having said that, there are still some odd delicacies about. And when you're being taken out by new friends, you can hardly say, "Yuck, I won't eat that!" even if you think you are going to be sick just looking at the plate.
In my first year in Sarawak I ate jellyfish tentacles in orange sauce, sago worms (see pic courtesy of Wikipedia), and snake. But my mate David holds the record as far as I'm concerned for eating swamp toad stew. He talked nineteen to the dozen for days after, so I expect there is something in toad skin that makes you high.
Anyway, given the odd foods I'd seen served, I had the impression that Sarawakians eat pretty much everything. So I was rather surprised when my mate Agatha told me there was no way she would eat crocodile.
As far as I knew, Agatha ate everything under the sun, except for prawns to which she is allergic. When I poked for more info, Agatha explained that her tribe, the Bidayuh of Sarawak, had made a pact with the crocodiles centuries ago not to eat one another.
"When we wash our clothes in the river," Agatha said seriously, "We sing a song to remind the crocodiles of this promise. And to this day they don't eat us and we don't eat them."
Next time I'm offered sago worms, I'm going to use that as an excuse.