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Worthy of Waugh

From today's New York Times:

PARIS As if President Franois Hollande of France did not have enough trouble with a stagnant economy and a scandal over his former budget ministers secret overseas bank accounts, now his camel has been eaten.Grateful Malian authorities gave the baby camel to Mr. Hollande during a triumphant visit to Mali in early February, after French troops intervened to drive back Islamist rebels who had seized the north of the country.The French president...joked then that he could use the camel in Paris to get around traffic jams. But the animal screeched constantly, and did not seem to enjoy the presidents attempt to pat it on the head. In the end, Mr. Hollande left his camel in the care of a family in Timbuktu.The family, evidently misunderstanding the purpose of the custody arrangement, proceeded to slaughter the camel and feast on it. According to local reports, it was fashioned into a tasty tagine, a regional type of slow-simmered stew.[...]

About the Author

Matthew Boudway is an associate editor of Commonweal.



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I lived and worked for a period in two small villages just south of the Malian border in northern Guinea. I can't be sure of the circumstances in this case, but in those villages the camel would have been a gift from God, not simply from M. Hollande. It would have provided a significant portion of the meat-based protein that that family and their guests would have had over the course of a full year. Every bit and piece of the camel that you can imagine and some that you cannot would have found use. Having the chance for the extra protein, and also for a traditional feast through which one could honor one's guests would have been seen as entirely consonant with the deepest daily belief: God is Great.Mark

I feel for M. Hollande - the same thing happened to me when I left my dog with the Korean couple down the street, when I asked that lovely French family if they'd check on my horse for a couple of weeks last summer, when I asked the English bloke downstairs if he's watch my eel while I was on vacation ...

Aa Korean woman married a friend of my brother, and when years later, now Americanized, she returned to her home village, she was horrified to find they had killed the family dog in honor of her.Matthew: I appreciate the reference to Waugh. I've wondered whether the younger generation reads him any more or any more of him than Brideshead Revisited.

Fantastic catch.

When I lived in Mauritania, camel was sometimes served at mechouis; the hump was a delicacy that went to the guest of honor. I preferred sheep myself, but there were less of them around during the drought.

Great stuff.

Food for thought...

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