The liquors of the Negroes are water, milk, and palm wine, which they call mighol, or migwol, which is taken from a tree of the palm tribe, very numerous in this country, somewhat like the date tree, but not the same, and which furnishes this liquor the whole year round. The trees are tapped in two or three places near the root, and from these wounds a brown juice runs out, as thin as skimmed milk, into calabasses that are placed to receive the liquor, which drops but slowly, as one tree will only fill two calabasses from morning till night. This migwol, or palm-wine, is an exceedingly pleasant drink, which intoxicates like wine unless mixed with water. Immediately after it is drawn from the tree it is as sweet as any wine whatever; but the luscious taste goes off more and more as it is kept, and at length it becomes sour. It drinks better than at first after three or four days, as it depurates by keeping, and is not so sweet. I have often drank of it, indeed every day that I remained in the country, and liked it better than the wines of Italy. This liquor is not so abundant as that every one may have it at discretion; yet all may have some, especially the chiefs, as the trees are not planted in gardens, like vines and fruit trees in Europe, but are found wild in the forests, and are consequently accessible to all.
In this country there are several sorts of fruit which resemble those of Europe, though not exactly the same, and which are very good, though they grow wild; and, were they to be cultivated as ours are, would prove much better than such as are produced in the northern climates, the quality of the soil and air in this part of Africa being more nutritive. The whole country is plain and fertile, abounding in good pasture, and is covered by an infinite number of large and beautiful trees, that are not known in Europe. It contains several lakes of fresh water, none of them large, but very deep, and full of excellent fish, which differ much from those that are caught in Italy, and many water serpents, which the natives call Kalkatrici. They use a kind of oil with their victuals, which tastes like oil of olives, has a pleasant flavour of violets, and tinges the food even better than saffron, but I could not learn what it was produced from. There is likewise a plant which produces large quantities of small kidney-beans.
In this country there are many kinds of animals, but serpents are particularly numerous, both large and small, some of which are venomous. The large ones are more than two paces long, but have neither legs nor wings, as has been reported by some persons, but some of them are so very thick as to have swallowed a goat at one morsel. These serpents retire in troops, as the natives report, to certain parts of the country where white ants are found in prodigious swarms, and which, by a kind of instinct, are said to build houses for these serpents, of earth which they carry in their months for that purpose, resembling