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A feast is a central part of village life in the highlands. Everyone in the tribe is involved and works together to prepare the different elements of the meal. Growing up, my family has always been a part of these feasts and we usually help line the steaming cooking pit with the hot rocks that will cook the meal, take trips to find firewood, or observe the pig butchering, where we add interesting knowledge to our understanding of anatomy.
Sometimes domestic chickens are killed and prepared for the feast as well. We often donate one of our chickens, and after it’s dead we pluck all the feathers and then gut it.
This is a two-person job; one person holds the body of the chicken while the other wields the knife and goes straight to work. It is not a pretty sight when we drain the chicken, clean and chop it, and then throw it into a pot to boil.
The men’s part of the feast involves cutting firewood, gathering the hot rocks, and butchering the animals. But they sit back and watch as their wives, sisters, and daughters go to work as they rush about preparing sweet potatoes and begin cooking greens and the meat as well. Nothing goes to waste. On a chicken, the feet, head, and all of the organs are cooked with greens and then added to the rest of the meal. When it’s finally time to eat, everything is devoured by all who have been waiting patiently for their dinner.
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