How to Cook a Tapir: A Memoir of Belize

How to Cook a Tapir: A Memoir of Belize

by Joan Fry
How to Cook a Tapir: A Memoir of Belize

How to Cook a Tapir: A Memoir of Belize

by Joan Fry


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In 1962 Joan Fry was a college sophomore recently married to a dashing anthropologist. Naively consenting to a year-long “working honeymoon” in British Honduras (now Belize), she soon found herself living in a remote Kekchi village deep in the rainforest. Because Fry had no cooking or housekeeping experience, the romance of living in a hut and learning to cook on a makeshift stove quickly faded. Guided by the village women and their children, this twenty-year-old American who had never made more than instant coffee came eventually to love the people and the food that at first had seemed so foreign. While her husband conducted his clinical study of the native population, Fry entered their world through friendships forged over an open fire. Coming of age in the jungle among the Kekchi and Mopan Maya, Fry learned to teach, to barter and negotiate, to hold her ground, and to share her space—and, perhaps most important, she learned to cook.

This is the funny, heartfelt, and provocative story of how Fry painstakingly baked and boiled her way up the food chain, from instant oatmeal and flour tortillas to bush-green soup, agouti (a big rodent), gibnut (a bigger rodent), and, finally, something even the locals wouldn’t tackle: a “mountain cow,” or tapir. Fry’s efforts to win over her neighbors and hair-pulling students offers a rare and insightful picture of the Kekchi Maya of Belize, even as this unique culture was disappearing before her eyes. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803243613
Publisher: Nebraska Paperback
Publication date: 12/01/2012
Series: At Table
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 819,372
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Joan Fry is the author of Backyard Horsekeeping: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need and the coauthor of The Beginning Dressage Book. Her articles and short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including McSweeney’s, Black Warrior Review, Other Voices, Southern California Anthology, and the Boston Globe. She lives with her husband in the California high desert.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Neighbors 000
1. Hurricane
2. Bush Bride     000
Convict Soup [RECIPE]
3. At Home in the Jungle      000
Sardine Surprise [RECIPE]
4. The Village Idiot    000
Traditional Maya Rice and Beans [RECIPE]
Modern Maya Beans [RECIPE]
5. No Lips or Eyelids   000
Chayote and Tomatoes [RECIPE]
Fried Plantains [RECIPE]
6. Kinship  000
Gibnut Gumbo [RECIPE]
Green Corn Dumplings [RECIPE]
7. Home Brew 000
Chicha [RECIPE]
8. Walking with the Dead 000
Lucia's Cilantro Stewed Chicken [RECIPE]
9. The Essential Nature of the Rainforest 000
Kekchi Scrambled Eggs [RECIPE]
Lancha [RECIPE]
10. Everybody and Her Brother 000
Flour Tortillas [RECIPE]
Chicken Vegetable Caldo with Samat [RECIPE]
11. Dick and Jane & Ilegorio y Teodora 000
Comal Cookies [RECIPE]
12. Hexed 000
Creamy Pumpkin Soup [RECIPE]
13. Strawberry Sunday 000
Escabeche [RECIPE]
14. Food Feud 000
Sesame Coconut Crunch [RECIPE]
15. "You Need a Second Husband" 000
Chickpea Soup with Cilantro and Pasta [RECIPE]
16. The Earth Is a Cornfield  000
Callaloo [RECIPE]
Bush Greens and Garbanzos [RECIPE]
17. A Feast among the Fallen Gods 000
Feast-Day Chile Verde [RECIPE]
Afterword 000

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ForeWord - Carol Haggas

"A poignant and revelatory coming-of-age story."—Carol Haggas, ForeWord

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