My guide and I stand next to a butcher whose hands expertly carve fat and flesh from a goat carcass strung on the rafters above. A woman behind a grill full of kabobs smiles up at us. A stew bubbles with chunks of meat and vegetables bobbing in a dark brown liquid. I observe the lively yet tiny kitchen and remind myself a pharmacy is only 100 meters away.
“She wants to know if you really want to try this.” My guide translates as the chef and the butcher watch me. Instead of sharing my misgivings regarding Bali belly, I smile and say yes.
The stew consists of goat parts I normally avoid–liver, intestine, eyes and other unnamable pieces of flesh. Slowly I sip the broth. Lemongrass, ginger and garlic brighten up the goat’s gaminess. I sip the stew again, sweet, sour and salty roll around my tongue in balanced harmony.
Next I include intestine in my spoon. The meat is chewy and tough to swallow. I stop thinking about what it is and spoon up another bite.
I gasp and touch my jaw, dropping my spoon on the table. My guide is as terrified as I am at the sound. He stares at me. I stare at him, then search for some kind of napkin.
With no paper options, I spit into my hand—a pebble ricochets into my palm. I take in the pea-sized rock, then ogle my dinner. I feel sick, I can’t breathe.
“What is it?,” my guide asks. His agonized voice rises above the whispers behind us.
My stomach roils as my mind recoils from this culinary discovery.
“It’s a rock, there’s a rock in my soup.”
“Rock?,” he chortles. “Are you scared of rock?”
He turns to our audience and tells them about the extra ingredient. The butcher slowly nods and smiles accepting this intrusion before focusing again on his work. Wordlessly I throw the rock away, wipe the goo on my skirt and take another bite.