I ate bat. Flying fox. Civet de roussette. And let me tell you, a bat by any other name is not any sweeter.
I had seen this little delicacy on the menu of French restaurant L’houstalet before I left Australia and needed to see if it was true.
Fellow Bridging Health volunteer Christine wasn’t keen to try it, but was very keen to see me do so. So we set off on foot in the dark of the Port Vila night.
We soon hailed a mini-bus, but as soon as the driver asked our destination, the name of the place completely fled my head.
‘Ah, the French restaurant’, I said hopefully, as I frantically tried to Google it. But of course my mobile data was on holiday with my brain and totally inaccessible. All I could come up with was ‘I think it starts with F’. We spent the next ten minutes careening around town (it’s not a big place), as our fellow passengers called out suggestions to the driver.
Eventually we pulled up outside Au Faré. French, starts with F, but doesn’t serve bat.
Not wanting to annoy the already beleaguered bus driver, we jumped out and ducked inside to ask a waitress the name of their competition.
Armed with the correct name, with no F’s there-in, it wasn’t long before we were seated at the right restaurant, a mere 500 metres from our motel.
D’oh. I’ll be counting d’ohs this trip, and that counts for about three simultaneously.
Seated and happy, I couldn’t just dive into the bat. I warmed up with a snail entree, swimming in garlic and butter – mollusc manna from heaven.
C’était délicieuse (it was delicious).
The waiter, also the owner, seemed cautious when I ordered my main, pointing out that a strong flavour was to be expected.
‘Yep. No drama. I’m good with strong’ (as soon as people talk to me with a foreign accent, my speech becomes ultra-Ocker).
The bat…ce n’était pas délicieuse (it was not delicious). However, it was edible. It was a dark meat, with thin chicken-like skin. There was an underlying bitterness not hidden by the red wine sauce, which I diluted with rice.
If I was starving in the jungle, bat would be on the menu. Otherwise, I’m not in a rush to try it again.
Buy a think I felt more empathy for the bat than I do when eating our ‘normal’ meats. I thanked it for doing its bit to keep me strong for the upcoming adventure.
I didn’t give the snails a second thought, until one reproachfully crossed our path on the short stroll home.
So thank you too little snails.
Here is an article which featured on the back of the menu at L’houstalet about the bat dish.
And thank you Christine for being such a great sport.