The Bummalo

I know people have their doubts about Wikipedia but it is unmatched as a resource to trawl for possible answers to cryptic crosswords, and without it I suspect I would never have been made aware of the bummalo, which is also known as the Bombay duck.

Neither a duck nor a buffalo pronounced through a mouthful of mozzarella, the bummalo is in fact a species of lizardfish native to the Gulf of Arabia, prized as a delicacy when salted and pan-fried, despite its pungent odour.

In these strange days, when genetic science is striding rapidly ahead, we may soon hear of a chimaeric creation, a semi-aquatic cow with the smell of a fish, the mouth of a lizard and the name of a duck and a city. This hellish creature is the bufmalo, or bumfalo, depending on the distribution of chromosomes.

I don’t know if the bummalo should now be referred to as the Mumbai duck. Or, indeed, the Mumbai fish. Perhaps it will be the last surviving relic of the name ‘Bombay’, just as ‘Leningrad’ only survives in the subtitle of the seventh symphony of Shostakovich.

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