Heaping portions of soto soup – a recipe imported from Indonesia – should always be served with hark, the leg of a chicken. It is traditionally served on Sunday during the family brunch.
Suriname - Been There

My first taste of Suriname's native cuisine

Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Suriname - Been There My first taste of Suriname's native cuisine

“Is there anything to do in Paramaribo on a Sunday?” I ask Frank, while flying in from the jungle of Suriname with him. “Yes”, he says without hesitation. “My mother’s a great cook; consider yourself invited.”

Jochem Wijnands
Jochem Wijnands Founder / photographer

Kids crawl under the table hunting lizards, while a feathery mass of songbirds dance in their cages, challenging one another with surly clucks and caws. “Here, taste my lovely Soto soup with hark and nek,” says Frank's mother Evi as she hoists a steaming cauldron right in front of my face. “This is the best bit,” she tells me while proudly presenting the hark – a skinny chicken leg with four bent, razor-sharp talons.

The other guests glance shyly in my direction as I sit, hark in hand, with Evi hovering above. As instructed, I slowly bring the chicken leg to my mouth and take the first bite. I chew slowly and contemplatively, then I gnaw away with increasing voracity, as if it were the best thing I ever tasted.

A roar of “bravo!” comes from the ever-growing crowd of interested onlookers; apparently the Surinamese are just as forthcoming with their sense of humor as they are with their native cuisine. Pitchers of beer are raised in Evi’s honor, and the rest of the afternoon is spent snacking on chicken legs while talking politics and soccer.

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