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Seven Nigerians Discuss Their Meat Taboos in "Meat and Myths"

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    I visited a friend once and almost had a panic attack when I saw him crush seasoning cubes over large chunks of snake meat. He’d killed it earlier and decided to make himself a pot of soup — a norm in his family.

    Of course, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it because of my granny’s stern warning: “We don’t eat snake in this family.” Granny never explained why, but many have their own unspoken meat consumption taboos. I got some people to share theirs with me today.

    “I’ve never had chicken anus” Goke*

    Growing up, my granny lived with us and did a lot of the cooking because my mum had to go to work. Whenever she sent us to buy a full chicken, she was always like, “Tell them to take out the anus when they’re cutting it.” I always followed her orders even though I didn’t know why. I didn’t really care. Then one time, my cousin went to buy the chicken because I wasn’t around, but he forgot to tell the seller to take out the anus. Granny made a fuss, so I had to ask what would happen if we ate the chicken’s anus. That was when she said it turns you into a gossip, and you’ll keep talking about people even when you’re not asked. I found that ridiculous, but now, it’s a part of my ritual, to never eat a chicken’s anus.

    “It’s forbidden to consume pork meat as a Muslim” Qudus*

    In all my 27 years on earth, I’ve never eaten pork meat. I come from a strong Muslim background, and my dad doesn’t joke with matters of the deen. I’ve not done any personal research, but from sermons I’ve heard at the mosque, pork is gotten from pigs, and that makes it haram (forbidden) for Muslims. Pig is considered an unclean animal because it consumes dead animals, and sometimes faeces. Consuming an animal like that will make you spiritually impure. I’ve heard there are exceptions for extreme starvation or when forced to consume it, but I’ve never been in any of those situations.

    “My grandmother doesn’t eat ram meat” Boboye*

    During Christmas, one of my uncles bought a ram for the celebrations. That was when my grandmother mentioned that she couldn’t consume it. I know it has something to do with her lineage. Some old people have idol-worshipping backgrounds — na civilisation turn them to Christians. She always warns us about “ewo idile”, a set of taboos peculiar to different families. Her children are free to consume what they like sha. I just think it’s a personal belief she held on to despite her conversion to Christianity.

    We’re throwing the biggest meat festival in Lagos. Grab your tickets to Burning Ram here.

    “I don’t eat the meat of any animal I killed” Emmanuel*

    I’d rather eat frozen chicken than eat a chicken I killed or watched people kill; the blood and butchering throw me off-guard. I won’t even eat from the soup or stew made with the meat. After watching the animal struggle until they die? Yeah… I’m not eating that. It’s difficult to process seeing them alive in one moment and dead in the pot in the next. I also can’t eat certain parts of an animal. I once bought frozen chicken and saw some part of the head was still on it; I asked that they cut it off.

    “My husband doesn’t eat duck meat” — Adeola*

    I once tried to recreate a duck curry recipe I saw on Instagram, and it didn’t go well. I got home that evening, and my husband, who loves snooping around when I return with groceries, saw the pack of duck meat I got from Shoprite. He flared up, but I wasn’t having it because in all our years together, he’d never mentioned anything about not consuming duck. I asked why, and he explained that it was a ground rule in his family growing up in Benin. Apparently, witches shapeshift into ducks. I made the recipe and ate it alone.

    “It’s a tradition not to consume crab meat in my house” — Toba*

    I’ve never been able to eat crab meat since I was a child. If there’s crab in any of my meals, best believe I’ll throw up all day. Maybe I have some kind of allergy. It’s the same with crayfish and prawns, but I can still manage those ones on rare occasions. Now, my wife knows not to buy crab when she’s making soup. Even my kids know that daddy doesn’t like crab, so I imagine them growing up and coming up with their own stories of why they can’t eat crab. Lol.

    “My grandma forbids donkey meat for us” — Paul*

    I don’t think there’s any type of meat I can’t consume. I love trying out different meals. However, my grandma has warned us several times against eating donkey meat. According to her, it’s used to carry corpse and is known for heavy suffering. Anyway, I’ve not seen donkey meat to eat anywhere, so I’ve never been in a position where I had to contemplate eating it or not.

    We’re throwing the biggest meat festival in Lagos. Grab your tickets to Burning Ram here.


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