Matt Dube

The Reluctant Gourmet’s Guide to Edible Voodoo Dolls

     You can find them on a low shelf near the other baking supplies, the piping bags and cookie
cutouts, the bespoke pie weights. Some stores, upscale ones and those near Spanish-speaking
neighborhoods, they’ll sell them already quartered, but most places will sell you a small bag of
whole dolls, maybe six in a clear plastic bag, usually stapled shut amateurishly through some
label run off a dot matrix printer. The ingredient list, likewise, appears approximate: the voodoo
dolls might include the following, and then corn husk and silk, dried beans, eggshell, dirt. Edible,
sure, and you don’t sweat it because you’re already buying voodoo dolls at the grocery store
because that’s where you’re at and what’s an upset stomach once it’s come to that. Maybe the
natural effects are retribution enough, before the mumbo jumbo takes effect.

     The internet lists all the recipes that are left off the label. Some people believe it’s best to
stay traditional, serve them in an oxtail soup. Others propose a gumbo as being best, given the
density and its ability to hide the flavors, but really, anything that uses a roux would work as
well. If you don’t have the time or confidence for that, there are quicker ways. You can chop
them fine before pan-frying and then serve them on a burger, with or in place of fried onions.
You know someone who was served them in a bowl of pho; she watched them sink and resurface
like survivors of a shipwreck, and then a waiter swept in all apologies, saying the bowl was
meant for another diner and carried it back into the kitchen. The waiter came back with another
bowl, but she changed her order to the pan-fried noodles.

     The dolls go to work fast, everyone agrees. You’ll see a twitch in the eye of person who’s
ingested them, a tick in the wrist, a tremor on the left side of the body because it feels sinister.

That same left eye fills with blood, and the fillings of cavities, if the person has any, will start to
sting. There’s cramping, of course, and sometimes a foot will turn inward, first in a palsy and
then the muscles will lock so that even using their hands it’s hard to straighten it.

     You don’t want to eat them yourself on accident; save them for someone you really wish
ill of. Unless that’s you. Then, it’s bon appetit.

3 February, 2021

Matt Dube's stories have appeared in Construction, Ilanot Review, Front Porch, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and American lit at a small mid-Missouri university and reads submissions for the online lit mag Craft.