Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Tortoises of Bayazid Bostami Dargah


Anonymous said...

Tommy the Turtle in China. I have not yet eaten turtle [never mind tortoise] while in China, although I came close. It was a particularly cool damp weekend. Allen, my friend and partner, his wife and daughter and I had spent a weekend in the country. On the way home, we stopped in a small "country inn" [that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I'll let it go] to have lunch.

The usual live room was at the doorstep -- fish in tanks, shrimp in buckets, and so on. I have long since ignored these things. I simply move on into the resto to allow my friends to introduce themselves to lunch or dinner. I simply cannot and will not communicate with my food.

It was very damp, and we indulged in lots of yellow wine [brown colored rice wine -- very powerful and good to warm the cockles of your heart]. The usual array of fish and other such things from water came our way. Since we were in the country, this was more river based than sea based, which made the fish all the more challenging because of the bone structure [lots of little bones all over the place].

One particular morsel left me cold to the bone beyond the effect of dampness. On a small white plate was splayed what looked like a little turtle. It was placed in front of me as the delicacy of the meal and I was repulsed. I insisted on not eating turtle.

My friends insisted that it was not turtle but a shell fish special to the area. Like hell it was. It had 4 legs splayed out, a head whose mouth ended in a slight beak, and a shell -- all grean like a turtle.

After some arguments and much protesting on my part, I simply refused, indicating it looked like Tommy the Turtle, a pet I once had. I just couldn't do it. Allen and his wife, however, had no such qualms, although their daughter was somewhat grossed out.

They dove into that thing like it was haute cuisine from Maxim's of Paris. It was hair raising listening to them suck on the bones, eat the sinews, and even scrape off the softened outer membrane of the shell.

I wanted to die, but kept drinking yellow wine instead. Not a happy scene. One of the few times in China I was on the edge over food.

While the tortoises in Chittagong might be reincarnated evil doers, I suggest they are less evil than some of the things we humans can do to them.

Stay curious....Victor

cochrane said...

Life as a turtle sounds less curse-y than swimming around in that pond and getting poked with sticks. Either way, I'll bet they've all had lots of time to think and regret. Now that I've read Victor's story, I'll face a moral dilemma and think of Tommy the next time I have the chance to order turtle...chances are I'll just fill up on bread as usual.

Anonymous said...

good for you sticking to your guns and refusing to eat the poor turtle.
I will not eat any reptile, esp turtles. I'll think of my two beautiful ornate woodies i hated out and they sweet little faces looking up at me. hehe :P


Mary said...

wow, they look more like seals with a shell. Even as a little girl, I used to sulk and sit outside every time my mother cooked turtle. I've never eaten one, and never will.