Being a travel writer was, perhaps, the …

Being a travel writer was, perhaps, the best job in the world. Unfortunately, it meant being forced to swallow down some of the most disgusting things in the world. Cathy tried to avoid it where she could, but when she couldn’t, she had forced herself to become an expert at faking the happy noises and nods that indicated she was enjoying it — and not vomiting. She had plowed through flame-broiled guinea pigs, boiled sheep’s intestines, and more than a few types of raw fish.

What was sitting in front of her, though, she couldn’t place. It didn’t appear to be particularly animal or organic. She couldn’t even pronounce what it was called.

“Must eat,” her host, who was really very kind though persistent, prodded. She was one of the few here who spoke English, though broken, and it was hard enough to get an answer out of her normally. But still, she did not want to ingest anything she didn’t have any idea about. She would eat it, she was sure, but not until she knew. It was one of those rules.

“Animal?” she asked. She was so far beyond trying to use full sentences, that she was trying to break it down into something her host might actually understand. “Cow? Pig?”

“No, no. Eat!” the host cried, pushing the plate a little closer.

Cathy glanced around for the translator that had been sent with her, but he was trying to convince another member of the host party to explain something about the local fauna to him, and it would be a few minutes before he’d return. So Cathy steeled herself, and took a tiny nibble. For all that it looked like something that might have been scraped off the bottom of a swimming pool, it wasn’t bad. Her host was watching expectantly, and she nodded hugely. “Is good, is good!” Cathy said.

Her translator returned a few minutes later, when half the plate had been devoured. “You got it figured out then?” he asked, grinning broadly.

“I still don’t know what it is, but it’s delicious.”

The translator blanched a little. “You don’t? Well, the last guy, you know? They didn’t like his article much.”