The Delectable(ish) Dare
It was New Year’s Day, 2013. I had spent the previous evening celebrating with my terrific friends in the back arse of nowhere, i.e. Co. Laois. We were, and still are, a very close group of friends who bonded over silliness and dirt. Ah yes, we girls loved getting dirty. But not like that! I mean plastered-in-so-much-mud-that-you’re-still-finding-it-dried-up-behind-your-ears-days-later type dirty. We actually find all the mud pretty cleansing… oddly enough.
It was that thought that drove us down the fields on that particular day (my friend, Ciara, is a farmer) to find a turlough. A turlough is a seasonal lake, and the upside of a wet winter! The one in Ciara’s field was a particular large one, and pretty deep too. Who knew what sort of filth lay beneath its brownish surface? Well, we did of course have a faint idea. Cow shit. And lots of it! And obviously this just made the whol
e thing seem far more appealing!
Myself and Ciara had explored the turlough before. Our favourite way of getting straight into it was to imitate Frodo’s fall into the marsh in The Two Towers, we’d make ourselves rigid and fall straight in. The poo and mud cushioned our fall nicely! This time, however, there were more of us so we took a run at it, Baywatch style! Leaving our bras and sanity behind us…
I’ll skip the whole thrashing-around-in-the-big-muddy-puddle part and get to the main event of the day! It was only as we began walking back up to the farmhouse, stinky and happy, that I saw the huge pile of day-old cow poo and wondered fleetingly what it would taste like. Well, I guess the thought wasn’t so fleeting after all. It stuck. And I got slightly annoyed at myself because once I develop some sort of weird idea or dare I have to follow it through. I knew I’d have to eat it. I told Ciara and then she got annoyed at me too because she knew she would have to join me! We have a bit of a rivalry going on, you see…we have to match each other’s wackiness!
So both of us crouched down and we each scooped up a fresh dollop of poo. Our friends stood above us, completely disgusted but egging us on at the same time. I took a whiff of the stuff – not as pungent as I thought it was going to be. Possibly because it was a tad stale. It smelt musty and earthy, with a hint of freshly mown grass… Ciara and I tried to make it romantic and feed each other, but it didn’t really work, I kept recoiling from her poo-covered fingers. In the end we just did the whole 3-2-1 – EAT!
It tasted like it smelt. Earthy. It was crusty on the outside with a soft nougat centre. But obviously it was poo, not nougat. There were a couple of tiny crunchy bits which I was curious about, I guess they were just little bits of dust or gravel, you know, the usual toppings. The moist, sticky centre oozed out across my tongue and I could feel the little remnants of semi chewed-by-a-cow grass getting caught between my teeth. It stung the back of my throat as I swallowed. But overall, I guess it could have been a lot worse. You could hardly taste the methane.
When it was over Ciara and I took one look at each other, jumped up and screamed and laughed so much that a little bit of pee came out. We hugged each other so hard… I think we were a bit TOO proud of the fact that we had just eaten cow poo. Ah well. It was our little victory for that New Year’s Day. I knew then that it was going to be a great year.
Any poo you can poo, I can poo better
So I told you that Ciara and I have a little bit of a competition going on? Yes, well, since that January day I’d been seeking to add a couple more dishes to my repertoire. Namely, duck poo and goat poo.
Duck poo happened that following June.
I was travelling around Europe on my bike. At that moment I was in Cologne, staying with a guy I met through couch surfing. He had shown me around the city and then we spent the afternoon in this huge park with several lakes and… wait for it… ducks! I enjoy sharing my poo stories with strangers and when I told this guy he didn’t fully believe me so I thought what better way to convince him than to demonstrate!
This time I was classy. I used two duck feathers as chop sticks. Duck poo is much smaller than cow poo, more of a gourmet poo really. I picked up one of the little balls with my “chop sticks” and examined it. Like the cow poo, it also seemed to be a bit dry on the outside. It definitely had a stronger smell! I suppose the best way to describe it would be sour milk mixed with the contents of a household compost bin. Anyway, I put in my mouth, and at first I couldn’t really taste anything. I thought, ‘hey, this isn’t actually that bad!’ But then it hit me. It tasted like a sandwich made with mouldy white bread, filled with brown sauce, blue cheese and of course garnished with the contents of a household compost bin! Washed down with of glass of that wretched sour milk…
I looked at my German friend. He was pretty impressed in a disgusted way. He now knows me as Holly, the girl who has a nice smile. And eats poo. Not a bad identifier. But more importantly, I was one up on Ciara! Life was good.
Later that summer, I was in Switzerland at a scout camp. I was with 10 other scouts my own age from all around the world. Naturally I told them about the whole poo thing and once again I was more than happy to sample another. This time it was to be goat poo. We had just spent a whole day hiking and were just starting to make our way back down to camp when we decided now was the time! I had spotted an attractive looking pile of goat poo (well, as attractive as poo can be) and went over to make my initial investigation. This poo had been exposed to the hot sun for most of the day, so again it had hardened a little. It looked like the driest of the three. I gave it a poke, and it flaked a little. I didn’t think this one was going to have a nice gooey centre!
I chewed it slowly…consistency-wise it was like a very substantial form of dandruff – bigger and thicker flakes, but still awfully dry and revolting. It just tasted like shit! I told the other scouts it tasted like strawberries. They weren’t convinced.
Holly – 3 Ciara – 1.
“It is better to have pooped and lost, than to have never pooped at all”- “James Thurber”
I was proud of my victory that year. Even though neither of us had anymore poo. It was never said out loud – maybe we didn’t want to accept it – but Ciara and I knew our poo-eating days were over. We both went back to college, and I suppose you could say we drifted apart a little. Our new lives took over; new friends, new responsibilities – we entered a world where we knew poo-eating would not, and could not exist. But what we had – be it a friendship, a rivalry, whatever – was special, and whenever I inhale a lungful of that fresh manure smell or pick some dirt from behind my ear, I’ll always think of you, Ciara.
Two years on, and I’m halfway through my degree course and working in an outdoor gear shop in Galway. One day in July 2015, my manager runs into the shop after her lunch break smelling awful and looking completely distressed. A bird had literally shit on her just before she stepped inside! I thought it was hilarious, and for a brief second I thought of the old me. The old me who would have licked that shit right off her. But instead, I got her a tissue, she cleaned up and we moved on with our lives.