SPAM and coq au vin on the Congo River

Updated 7:01 PM ET, Wed June 5, 2013
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On the Congo River, it's not necessarily clear where your next meal is coming from. Anthony Bourdain fuels up on grilled chicken, ugali and piri piri pepper at Restaurant Village Fatima in Goma before setting out on his journey. Zero Point Zero
What lights still glow around Kisangani comes mainly from small kiosks serving the Congolese version of barbecue, and what passes for cold beer. Bourdain samples grilled and stewed goat, but many locals find meat to be a luxury on their meager wages. Zero Point Zero
For the Congolese, the river provides basic things: water for bathing, cleaning clothes, cooking, drinking and fishing. Zero Point Zero
Since long before the expeditions of Dr. David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley, the Wagenia Tribe has been fishing the Congo river in unique fashion. Zero Point Zero
The Wagenia dive from a precarious network of wooden poles into the treacherous rapids of what is still referred to as Stanley Falls. They then navigate downstream between baskets that need tending. The catch these days? Not much. Zero Point Zero
A standard Congolese dish is liboke -- pretty much anything wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. These women transport bundles of leaves down the river. Zero Point Zero
After coming a long way down river, and with many kilometers still to go, attention turns towards the evening meal. Bourdain decides to make coq au vin, which is a pretty simple way of dealing with a bunch of tough, old, stringy birds in one pot. Zero Point Zero
"You want to eat? You gotta kill your own chicken and pluck it, too," says Bourdain. "Every man has a breaking point. And in retrospect, perhaps, this was ours." Zero Point Zero
The one knife on board is "as sharp, really, as a soup spoon," and Bourdain begins frantically trying to rip out the backbone and guts in one go with his bare hands. It's getting darker and darker and it's dangerous to be out on the Congo River at night. The stew turns out "scraggly, but passable." Zero Point Zero
Bourdain and crew cobble together eggs and SPAM lunchmeat for breakfast. Refrigeration of any kind is impossible, so canned meat is a must. Zero Point Zero
"We may have invented the stealth bomber," says Bourdain, "[but] really this will be our crowning accomplishment as a culture." Zero Point Zero
"Yeah, they'll find us 10 years later naked in the bush with like, a necklace of SPAM cans," said Bourdain. "That was glorious." Zero Point Zero