Monday, 5 July 2010

Food Files: Gideon

Some people eat on the hoof. This guy just eats the hoof.

But this Food File is not really about Gideon. It's about the imps behind him who serve up the carnage. Introducing Ali and Momo - two paperless Afghans in a gore-strewn butcher shop.


Ali had a head like a pumpkin. It sat atop his slender neck like a prize-winning vegetable about to shatter the rickety village rostrum. He was 5”6' in his wellies but exuded a wry charisma.

Beside Ali stood his silent sidekick, Momo. Momo is a man who lets his meat cleaver do the talking. That much is clear from the state of his overall. Momo nodded intently at Ali's every serious point and giggled like a fool at his every joke. Everyone needs a Momo.

The pair accosted me at their shaded stall on Dalston's Ridley Road. I was perched over a macabre display of dismembered quadrupeds, wondering how on earth I used to digest this matter. Without warning, the sales pitch commenced.

Ali grabbed a hoof and waved it in my face. Drawing my eyes with the stump, he held it aloft like some torch of machismo. Even as a paid-up tofu-muncher, I was a captive audience. Momo pulled up beside him and Ali's voice called out in the rich, guttural tones of his native Pakhtunkhwa.

“Soup from this.... just one cup.... make you very, very strong....”

Momo raised an upright forearm, fist clenched, then jabbed it up and down repeatedly in the universal sign for “sweet loving”.

Ali's commentary went on:

“Your lady..... never let you go.”

Momo stopped the muff-uppercuts, and gave himself a big, long hug, his bearded face contorted in ecstasy.

“Your thing”, continued Ali, pointing respectfully at my groin, “will be like.... a cobra.”

Momo threw up his butcher's hood, stuck out his tongue, then started to sway in serpentine poise.

Ali came closer, and whispered in my ear as we both observed the man-snake:

Always ready...”

Momo's eyes flitted from side to side....

“... and always hungry...”

At this point, Momo started flicking his tongue in and out with obscene rapidity....

Unfortunately, Momo's tongue caught the eye of a large Caribbean lady who had been buying plantains at a nearby stall. She stopped dead, stood straight and shot the man-snake a look of pure contempt. Momo snapped out of the cobra act and started toying nervously with a trayful of lungs.

Deprived of Momo's illustrations, Ali switched to a more literal tack.

His brutal anecdotes were less Mills & Boon than Taliban Hustler. The earthy Afghan was having fun trying to make the stuffy Englishman uncomfortable. I countered with a few stories of my own but it was a total mismatch. This guy rips balls off carcasses for a living.

“So how often do you eat this, Ali?” I asked cheerfully (tapping out).

Ali brought his hand to his heart and bowed slightly:

“I am vegetarian.”

“Well then who does eats this?”

“Black people” Ali replied matter-of-factly. “Why they are so big. So strong.”

I took a deep breath and prepared my standard middle-class briefing on racial stereotyping.

Bang on queue however, Gideon, 36, from Lagos, Nigeria, turned up and started rummaging through the hooves. Two caught his eye. He gave both a cursory foot massage before making his choice.

But how do you digest a cow's hoof? Here's Gideon's recipe:

Get the wife to simmer it for at least three hours. Sometimes she puts a few yams in there. Then she spices it with hot pepper and serves it as a soup.

That's a demanding recipe for Mrs G.

But then again, the lady doesn't go without reward.


  1. Hilarious stuff, Cereal Killer. Laughed out loud.

  2. Very, very funny. Good work Killah.