Friday, September 11, 2009

Toros Mousse

Growing up in rural Michigan, the county fair was always the highlight of the summer. As a 4-H kid, I spent the entire week at the fairgrounds. We were there every day feeding, cleaning, and showing our livestock. The most highly anticipated event of the week (except, of course, for the crowning of the 4-H king and Queen ;) was the Demolition Derby. We reveled in the barbarism, watching twisted heaps of metal collide and drivers frantically eject from their burning wrecks.

France has a parallel, never mind the sophisticated and stogy salons of Paris. Come down to the rural South of France, where real men test their mettle against Camargue bulls. And again, I'm not referring to the artfully choreographed bull fights popular in Spanish stadiums. No, I mean local untrained machisimo men in a pen with an angry bull and some rave-party foam and a pool of water and cotten-eyed-joe playing over the loud speaker. Now we're talking about entertainment.

Toros mousse is a spectacle. It's hard to believe that people would engage in such a sport. The most incredible aspect to me is that the guys jumping in the ring are just locals; they have no training. I could have jumped right in with the bulls too... if I was crazy. Young teens actually stand in between the high outer wall and an inner divider to get a better feel for the excitement. Sometimes, however, the bulls can jump over the first barrier, causing a wave of frantic leaping over boards an into the top ring of netting that confines the arena. At half time, all of the children are encouraged to run into the arena and play in the foam. They should be well prepared for frat foam parties at university.

After such years of indoctrination into the "sport," the men are willing to sacrifice their bodies for cash prizes and T-shirts. Now to be fair, they do cap the horns, so it's unlikely to get thoroughly gored - trampling is more likely.

There are some strategies. The bull doesn't see well in foam; making quick lateral maneuvers can save your tail. The bull tends to jump over the lip of the pool; while being pursued, if you duck under water against the edge of the pool, the bull will jump right over your position. This also earns you a point for successfully getting the bull in the pool. Finally, when fleeing toward the edge of the arena, be sure to plant off of the outer lip in order to spring over the inner boards and into the netting. Even if the bull makes the first jump, it will not have room to jump up after you. Instead, it will pursue the nearby spectators.

Really, you have to see it to believe it. I think toros mousse would impress even the most aggressive demo-derby enthusiast.
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This work by Ken Maschke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.