Advertisement
This story is over 5 years old
The Harvester of Sorrow Issue

Mouse On A Stick

It's got its problems, but compared to places like Uganda, Malawi is paradise. AIDS is still rampant but the southern African nation's economic growth continues year after year.

by Andy Capper
Nov 3 2007, 12:00am


Photo by Abbie Trayler-Smith
 

It’s got its problems, but compared to places like Uganda, Malawi is paradise. AIDS is still rampant but the southern African nation’s economic growth continues year after year. The IMF puts this down to good transportation distribution and an upturn in the country’s harvests.

Another thing that’s helping the country is enterprising go-getters like this young man, who spends most of his day catching mice, killing them, and serving them up on sticks at the side of the road for hungry motorists to buy.

Our friend photojournalist Abbie Trayler-Smith took this picture while on an assignment there recently, so we asked her about it.

Vice: What were you up to when you ran into this local delicacy?

Abbie Trayler-Smith:
I was traveling to Blantyre in South Malawi from Lilongwe, where I had been researching a piece on Malawian cuisine for the Observer Food Monthly. We were driving along and as soon as we pulled over, the sticks holding ten mice apiece were shoved through the window.

What was that like?

The smell was overwhelming. They were poached in mango juice and I felt pretty ill immediately. They are a speciality of the region, though, and the kids kept telling us “You must eat with fur on” over and over again.

So, the big question: How far down the pole did you get?

I couldn’t bring myself to sample the goods. I was traveling with Alex Renton, who is a well-respected international food critic. He’s eaten fried tarantula before in Asia and he lost his nerve as well, so I didn’t feel so bad. I just purchased two bottles of water instead.

ANDY CAPPER