Monday, April 25, 2011


I have been hearing on the news that this is the 25th anniversary of the infamous Chernobyl disaster. At the time we were living in Senegal and heard all the news through the BBC World Service. It was all on the radio. Our only pictures of the disaster came from news magazines, no TV.
A few months after the accident we started to notice frozen turkey wings going on sale in the market and grocery stores all over Dakar. They were also available in Dakar. When I saw some of the boxes I noticed that they were from North Carolina. They were certainly a good deal. An American turkey wing could be as big as a normal African chicken's whole leg.  I remembered buying them quite often.
I didn't realize, thought, that the Senegalese were mystified by this item for sale. In Africa, pretty much all poultry is bought live and whole. Even the well off people buy whole birds, even the already slaughtered ones, in the grocery stores. Selling parts, like we do in the USA, is almost unheard of. 
At one point, a friend I worked with, asked me if there was anything wrong  with the turkey wings. He said that there was a rumor going around that they came from Chernobyl! Maybe people thought they were all that was left. It took me a while to explain that in America, agriculture was industrialized and that it was very common to buy poultry parts. He understood, although I got the idea that he still thought we were crazy in America. You can never underestimate the power of cultural differences!