This post is a an example of something you can expect more of in the travel guide. Called “Stories from the Field,” these are personal accounts of interesting experiences from my or another’s Peace Corps service, meant to provide a unique look into different and unique aspects of Guatemalan culture. Enjoy.
Every culture has its unique food, and Guatemala is no exception. During my Peace Corps service, I tried ants, iguana, opossum, rabbit, pig’s foot, cow stomach, and just about every part of a chicken you can think of. One culinary experience, however, sticks vividly in my mind. After work one day, my coworkers invited me to join them at the river to go fishing and have dinner. We were going to make a caldo (soup), which is a very popular dish in Guatemala. Everyone was excited, and we brought a few large nets down to the river. The fishing, however, was slim – the largest fish in the stream were just a finger long. It looked like our soup was going to be more tomatoes and broth than anything else.
Soon, however, a small group that had gone down stream to came back with a giant pot full of gleaming, squirming fish. At least I thought they were fish. At closer inspection, they were actually sizable tadpoles. Tepocates as they are called in Spanish, or xumutukes in K’iche’, were everywhere in the river that time of year, and some were already turning into frogs. I don’t’ have a weak stomach, but chowing down on bizarre little creatures gave me pause. Noticing the concerned expression on my face, a friend’s cousin passed me a bottle, and said, “here, this should help.” After a swig of the gasoline-like cusha, I set to work. I learned that popping the head and guts off the tepocates left a small chunk of meat, and after a few thousand we had ourselves a respectable meal. While we traded swigs from the bottle of moonshine, the brilliant starry sky emerged, and the caldo de tepocate sat happily in our bellies.
Photo Credit: Poramin’s Blog