My husband, Mark, eats no beef, chicken or pork and has spent years saving (rather than squishing) spiders, flies and sundry insects by carefully escorting them from inside the house to outside the house. This past weekend, he lost all this positive karma in a two-hour span of fishing on the Zambezi River near Mana Pools National Park in northern Zimbabwe. It was worth it.
Fishing is not a pastime that usually appeals to me, but that afternoon the river was particularly inviting and fishing seemed like a good way to experience it. Once afloat, we saw crocodiles and hippopotamuses plying the shoreline – the crocs impressing us with their stealth, their terror-inducing incisors, and their armor-like scales, and the hippos punctuating the stillness with a ruckus of guffaw-like honks. Saddle-bill storks waded in the tall grasses, white-fronted bee-eaters flitted in and out of their riverbank nests, and a fish eagle manned his treetop look-out. On the Zambian side of the river, this scene was framed by the Zambezi Escarpment, a picturesque row of small mountains.
Although neither of us had cast a line for many years, Mark hauled in two fish, including a tiger fish – one of the most sought-after catches in the
Tiger fish is a white fish that tastes similar to bream (a.k.a. tilapia). It is much bonier than bream, however, which means it isn’t very conducive for serving whole or as a filet. The camp chef skillfully prepared Mark’s fish by cutting it into small boneless pieces and frying these pieces in a thick batter. He served the tiger fish nuggets on lettuce, with slices of lemon and tomato. They were gobbled up before I had the chance to take a photo. Apparently, tiger fish is also excellent when pickled.
While we were nibbling on tiger fish, what were the other animals at Mana Pools eating? Well, the elephants were snacking on “elephant cookies,” otherwise known as seed pods of the apple-ring thorn tree. Members of the antelope family were enjoying leaves from the