The shiny, green slab bore no resemblance to any food I had encountered before, but I knew I would have to overcome my revulsion and eat it, for the sake of politeness. I picked up a fork and gave the offending square a hesitant push. Nothing moved. I would have had more response from a piece of concrete. Unhelpfully, my mind jumped to the idea of miniature gardens, and I could imagine tiny flowers and a small pond populating the rest of the dish.
Looking up I saw every set of eyes around the table focused me; the faces smiling, with a few helpful nods toward the plated paving stone in front of me. One of my hosts even let out a long ‘mmm’ as if to reassure me I had a treat in store.
I knew about foreign treats: sheep’s eyeballs, bulls’ testicles, dogs’ penises. But I could think of no animal that yielded small, green, geometric shapes. My mind suddenly leapt to the idea of cows, and the regurgitated grass they chew on all day. Please, don’t let it be cow cud. I couldn’t stomach something that had already been through a bovine digestive system. No-one else at the table had touched their share of the delicacy. Clearly I had priority, as the honoured guest.
Then one of the women took pity on me. She reached across, lifted a small jug from beside my plate, and poured its contents over the miniature lawn. Immediately, its corners began to crumble and a small piece fell away into the pooling sauce. I just had to brave it out and eat the fragment. Lifting the crumb to my mouth I hastily threw it as far back on my tongue as I could and swallowed.
Coconut! Sweet coconut, and some sort of honey syrup. To my surprise it tasted delicious. The rest of my companions let out an assortment of small cheers and giggles. One or two even clapped, then they all began to eat their own dessert, happy with my reaction.