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Goodbye lobster, former queen of the Kenyan sea

Once the symbol of the tropical holiday

07-08-2021 di redazione

Years ago in Watamu, you could buy a live lobster at the port for a thousand lira.
Today, if there is still a lobster left alive, it pays you a thousand shillings to leave it alone.
I remember that in 1990 on the golden beach of Che Shale at the Mambrui fishermen's I exchanged a kilo of lobster for a Genoa shirt and they even thanked me.
Only to be stopped the next time to ask if I had the shirt of a slightly stronger team, and they would bring me back mine.
For a long time, the queen of crustaceans was an economic touchstone for those who intended to live or stay for a long time in Kenya or simply wanted to make themselves look good with friends back home: "In Malindi, with the money that I would use in Italy to eat a sandwich, I can get a lobster" or "I came to Malindi because in Italy you have to sign a promissory note to eat a lobster".
Then they'd end up going back to Italy with their tails between their legs because they'd eaten too many lobsters....
Today, lobster is no longer so cheap and has become a rarity, partly because the Chinese take half of it from Kenyan waters, along with squid (and luckily they like their shrimp very small... perhaps due to a sort of sexual identification...). Nevertheless, the price of the queen of the crustaceans is always derisory, compared to what one would pay for it in Italy.
It may be difficult to find it still healthy, even if the intermediaries between the fisherman and the tourist, the fish sellers who beat the streets and knock on the doors of the villas in Malindi and Watamu, study every possible method to revive the lobsters in the presence of a mzungu. They know where to touch them to give them a last boost even though they have been dead for three days, they hibernate them alive while waiting for medicine to find a cure to resurrect them and they teach them the Thriller dance. When there's nothing more they can do, they use the same make-up techniques that make Berlusconi look like he's never been more than 50, painting them with tempera and bleaching their yellowing flesh with Jik, the local bleach. Fortunately, a bad lobster does not go to the creator of Heaven and Earth, but only to the creator of your Kenyan toilet, even for several days.


(taken and updated from the book "Malindi from the Askari to the Mosquito")

 

TAGS: aragosta kenya

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