Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Julia Child I am not. In fact, in the States I am known more for my inability to cook than for any skill in the kitchen. (Although I must say that I get RAVE reviews about a snicker salad which includes Snickers, apples and whipped cream.) Declicious....but not exactly difficult to make. There's a chance that I've managed to mess up no-bake cookies before. Sad. Anyway, I've made a friend here on my walks and today I asked her to teach me to cook. Now let's be honest. Since I didn't really cook in the States, there's a high probability that I won't cook much here either (sandwhiches do just fine for me) but I was excited to get to spend time with this girl, work on my Krio and learn something new. My suspicions that I won't cook a ton of African food were confirmed today when it took FOUR HOURS to cook ONE MEAL!! First, we went to the market to buy everything we'd need. It was a lot of stuff! We bough cassava leaf and then watched a guy grind it up (I always wondered how they got it to look that way), granut paste (like peanut butter without the sugar), rice (of course), Maggi (a spice used in everything), a LOT of peppers, salt, palm oil, some unidentifiable brown mixture to thicken the sauce, and some fish (I tried not to notice the hundreds of flies surrounding the fish). After the market we headed back to her place to cook it up. It was a really fun experience. Although my Krio is not yet good enough to have in depth conversations, I had fun trying to figure out what she and her sister were talking about. Sometimes it would get tricky because I would listen to them talk and think "man, my Krio is getting worse.....I don't understand anything they're saying" and then realize that they had switched to their tribal language and I hadn't picked up on it. No fair!! First she cooked the sauce, then the rice. All in all it took 4 hours to prepare this meal! The food was good although it was VERY spicy (as usual). I ate as much as I could but I could tell that she was disapointed I didn't eat a ton of it. Although to be fair, they usually just eat once a day so when the eat, they eat a LOT. I like to eat! But my American tummy is more used to grazing than eating one giant meal for the day! It also didn't help that I got a little fish bone caught in the back of my throat so I had to concentrate pretty hard not to look like a cat trying to cough up a hairball. We ate at around 2pm and when I asked when they usually eat, they told me that the time just depends on when they get their money. If it takes all day to get enough money, they eat at the end of the day and if they don't make enough money, they don't eat. I kept trying to figure out how they made their money because it was just these two girls (ages 19 and 14) who live with them and an aunt who isn't much older. The 14 year old sister tried to sell some cookies and candy that she made but she didn't sell any today so it certainly doesn't seem to be enough to support all of them. Anyway, it was a lovely day cooking, but definitely made me thankful that I don't have to do that every day. My friend said that next time she wants to "plate" my hair. That's right....the good ole' corn rows or braids or whatever variation it ends up being. I've yet to see it look as cool on a white girl as it does on Africans so....we'll see. Plating is probably one of the most popular social interactions between women here, so I could definitely see doing it for that reason as opposed to thinking that after 29 years my bright white scalp suddenly needed to see the light of day!