So. Back to Jamaica. Here we are, in lovely Negril, enjoying our vacation with The Smiths, and Colt brings up the Anthony Bourdain episode where he comes to Jamaica. We had seen it, but probably not for a few years so I only vaguely remembered bits and pieces. Colt had recently watched it and he was very excited about repeating the scene where Tony eats chicken foot soup. Wait. Did I hear that right? Please, for the love of all that is holy (I had already declared my New Years Resolution by this time) tell me that you did not just say chicken FOOT soup. I am telling y’all right now that all three of my traveling companions looked at each other at that moment and smiled very, very wicked grins. Me? Not so much.
After the initial mention, the topic remained in the background until the day we took a ride up to Push Cart, for that fantastic dinner. Our driver, David, was being very friendly and informative food-wise so you know what happened next – Colt asked about The Soup. Silence. More silence, and a little bit of laughter on our end, and then he sort of mumbled around about it, not really telling us where you could get it. He made sure to assure us that they cleaned the feet and snipped off the nails before they put it in the soup. Okay…and then he said when we asked him, he was so surprised that his tongue swelled up. So basically we got nowhere with David – chicken foot soup was not something tourists asked about – despite the feet being so clean (that point seemed to be very important to him).
I can’t say I was sorry about that response, and I also can’t say that I was surprised that Colt made a second inquiry – this time to our fantastic server at Push Cart – Flava. Flava laughed nervously at first but after some reassurance that yes, Colt was very serious, he promised that he would get us some chicken foot soup. Awesome. I could hardly contain my excitement.
The next day, a few seconds before Flava showed up at our hotel, it started raining. A very intense rain. But guess what? Flava stuck it out with us until the weather cleared and there we went – in to Flava’s car, on the search for soup. We did make a stop first for some patties in town, but this post is not about the patties, is it? It’s about the soup. So back in the car we went. A short ride later and Flava pulled in to a parking lot surrounded by tiny, colorful shacks – selling food, phone cards, and even hair cuts. He told us this was the cabbie yard. We were the only tourists, and definitely the only white people hanging out in the yard. I think everyone was watching us as Flava walked up to a man sitting by a large soup pot. After a short conversation, we headed back to our car. He was out of soup, but had another recommendation of where to try. Oh thank goodness, I was super worried there for a sec.
Back to the car and a drive to the other side of town to what appeared to be just a bar, but we followed Flava to a window where he talked to someone and we, once again, failed to blend in to the Locals Only atmosphere. And again – no soup.
I would have felt relieved but Flava simply marched across the lot where we parked, into a building filled with small shops. Winding our way in to the back where a very small cafe was surrounded by people, picking up lunch. And guess what? No soup! And no pictures either – Flava was doing a really good job of keeping the locals at bay, who were trying to approach us for who knows what (most likely weed sales) but I am a small town girl and I was not feeling awesome at that moment about taking pictures of people with my iPhone. What would I do if someone took it? No more Angry Birds?! But I digress…we were back in Flava’s car and he was out of ideas. After a minute of thinking, he promised Colt that he would go get some in the morning, before everyone ran out, and bring it to us after our waterfall tour was over. Okay then. Settled.
Except as we were coming back in to the main part of town, we all noticed a street cart being pushed across the road (okay – full disclosure – I totally noticed it before, but you better believe I kept my mouth shut). Flava pulled over and called out through the window to the proprietor. And guess what y’all? He had the soup! Yay? We parked and hopped out. $4 bought both Tom and Colt what I would guess was a pint each of chicken foot and conch soup.
In case you were wondering, there were definitely chicken feet in there (forget the conch – there were FEET IN THE SOUP). Tom said he actually had no conch, but about 4 feet. To their credit, they dug right in.
Maggie didn’t seem exactly hesitant to try it either.
You know what’s coming next right? I did make them say it – “Britta – would you like to try my soup?” – there was no way I was offering. Maybe they would forget. Right.
Now normally I would not post these pictures because they are not flattering. But. I need proof that I tried it. So all of the Internet can know that I stuck to that resolution, damnit! And I’d also like to point out that to eat the foot, you have to BITE DOWN ON A TOE AND PULL THE SKIN OFF. Re-read that last scentence as a favor to me. And just FYI – that skin has been boiling for who knows how long. This is no Extra Crispy KFC skin. So you get my point…
Please note Tom’s immense enjoyment out of my discomfort. Yep. And don’t think Maggie and Colt weren’t laughing off-camera. As far as the taste goes? Chicken foot does not taste awesome. I don’t care how clean it was, it tasted like skin that had been boiling for 2 days. The soup however was the most flavorful stock I’ve ever had – just not worth the feet that come floating in it.
The rest of our afternoon was filled with shopping and happily, a stop at another street vendor. Only this time it was for jerk chicken. NO FEET ATTACHED.
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