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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius, an African animal which is distantly related to the pig but very much larger (up to 4.2 m/14', and weighing up to 4 tons). As its name (meaning river horse) indicates, the hippopotamus lives in and out of water. It counts as being basically an aquatic species, but it comes on land to feed, usually during the night.

As with other large African mammals, the numbers of this species and the extent of its range have been seriously depleted; but it has been eaten in the past and it has been said that the breast and back muscles, pot roasted with spices and herbs, were regarded as ‘the greatest delicacies that the hunter can provide’ (Leipoldt, 1976). The same author comments that hippopotamus meat, which was formerly on sale at the Cape Town market, always tends to be greasy and needs the addition of wine or vinegar.