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Chadians Adapt to Food Crisis

BBC News (6/1/09)

Hungry people in the central African nation of Chad have raised an old culinary fad from the dead - to get their fangs stuck into fried blood.

"Vampire", as it is jokingly dubbed, is a traditional dish making a comeback amid a global surge in food prices that has left meat too expensive for many.

Meat is often eaten only on special occasions such as religious holidays.

Nutritionists say "vampire" is actually an excellent alternative to goat and sheep, especially for children.

"I make it with peppers, salt, onions, spicy sauce and maggi [stock cubes]. I fry it all up like that; it's good," said Modestine Danbe, who lives in the N'Djamena.

Ms Danbe is one of many women in the city's Walia neighbourhood, close to the Cameroonian border, who has taken to frying up huge vats of blood and selling it to her neighbours on the streets.

She buys buckets of fresh blood from the abattoir near her home for about $1 (£0.61), which makes about 40 plates of "vampire".

Each plate sells for about $0.2 (£0.1), so after the costs of the other ingredients her profit is about $7 (£4.3).

"It's actually an excellent source of nutrients, especially for children," said Robert Johnston, a nutritional specialist for Unicef in Chad.

"Blood pudding and liver have been used in other countries to promote high-protein intake for families who don't have daily access to meat."

Making a killing

Meat-based products make up a large part of the average Chadian diet.

Many people in the north of the country come from nomadic backgrounds, where drinking an animal's blood without actually killing the beast is a survival technique in lean times.

Vampire is making a killing in Walia's ubiquitous bili bili (local millet brew) bars, where liquid diets require some supplements.

"The taste is good, a bit like liver. I really like it," said James, a Saturday-morning drinker.

"I suppose it doesn't sound very good to be associated with sucking blood, but I don't really care. Perhaps it will give me the strength of a vampire!"

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