I like goats. I like to pet 'em and I like their milk and cheese. I also like to eat 'em, now.
On Saturday, Caitlin & I went to Archer for Leroy's graduation party. He is graduating from UF with a Doctorate in Plant Medicine.
Georgia & Caitlin with Zoe & Celia
(photo by Leroy's daughter Casey)
Leroy and his Jamaican comrades cooked up a real feast: jerk chicken and pork, fried plantains, rice, goat curry. There was iced mint tea and Caribbean beer (3 kinds) and reggae music and a ginormous dog named Caesar, a bull mastiff "puppy" who galloped around the yard with the kids like a lion.
Caesar Before He Was Released From the Pen
Caitlin & Caesar
The climax of the party came when Leroy introduced Caitlin and me to goat soup, also known as "mannish water," an essential component of any Jamaican party. He didn't let us look in the pot as he stirred it and added salt. He said he wouldn't tell us which parts of the goat we were eating until we'd eaten them.
We started with the broth, which tasted like licking a goat. It was brownish, thick, and very spicy. We could see some small orange chunks of yam and yellow chunks of plaintain floating in it.
Then Leroy said: "Are you ready for the meat parts?" We said yes. He dished us up some pieces of what looked like coral -- gray, wrinkled or pocked lumps of stomach, head meat, and feet. This, we were told, was the severed parts leftover after they butchered the goat they bought to make curry with.
Leroy took us through the soup-making process: remove the eyes, tongue, and teeth from the head; scrape off the hair; and roast. The roasted head goes, with cleaned intestines, into the pot. (I'm not sure where the hooves go.) The balls might very well have been in that pot too.
In Jamaican culture, the goat soup is known to be an aphrodisiac (it must be made from a "man goat"), and it is also used as an antidote to alcohol. When someone gets too drunk at the party, he goes inside and eats more soup. It also is a symbol of good luck and hospitality. If there's not a pot of goat soup on the stove, it's not a real party.
The bottom line is, once my skinny little white friend had eaten goat stomach fearlessly in front of me, I had to eat it too. It was extremely spicy ("a pepper exploded," Leroy explained) and made us sneeze, though it didn't make us noticeably horny.
Later, driving home, I burped and Caitlin said: "I smelt that. Your breath smells like goat brain."
Three cheers for mannish water!