News piece for Vice Magazine.
Ever been driving along the motorway bleary eyed, tired and hungover and pulled into services hoping to be magically lifted back to health and wellness by something to eat that tastes like it’s been shat out by the god of good food? Us to. The only problem is that nine times out of ten you will end up paying 7 pounds for a sausage roll that ends up making you feel like you have a limp, dead, battered mouse in your mouth. Spare a thought then for the drivers of Malawi where the roadside services consist of kids running along selling you actual limp, dead, battered mice. But on sticks. Yup, no Ginsters in Lilongwe just good old fashioned mice popcicles. Mmmm. We spoke to the photojournalist Abbie Trayler-Smith who was so into the drive by rodent-batons that she sent us millions of pictures of them in all of their furry, skewered glory.
Vice: So, what were you up to when you ran into this local delicacy?
Abbie Trayler-Smith: I was travelling 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.
I am guessing that the mice-kebabs didn’t make it into the Observer piece?
No. 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 travelling 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.