Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cooking Lessons

Hello everyone, and welcome to my yard. I'm so glad you could all be here.

My name is Edwin, and I am coming up on two years old, though my extremely cool appearance may lead you to believe I am far older. Today I'd like to tell you about the day my friend Ann came over to learn how to cook some proper African food from Melanie, my mother. My mother is a good cook, so I figured she'd be a fine teacher for Ann. (These are Ann's sunglasses -- I found them on the desk where she'd set them, put them on, and proudly marched into the kitchen. Everyone seemed to like my new look, so I kept them on for a while.) Behind me in this picture is my eldest brother Patrick, who took most of the following pictures. (I have two more elder brothers and one elder sister too, but they were off at school.)

The featured meal in today's lesson was greens with peanut sauce, served with cocoyams. The ladies started off with a huge pile of greens fresh from the market, separating the leaves from the stems. They even did their hair the same way. Hmmm...

Then they brought them to the outdoor fire to cook in a big pot. Here you see me supervising as my mom puts the greens into the boiling water.

While we waited for the greens to cook down, we sat on the woodpile in the shade of the house and ate some oranges. You may have your own ways of eating an orange, but here we peel off the outer rind (leaving the white part), cut the fruit in half, and suck out the juice from each half, spitting seeds all over the yard.

Here you see Ann stirring the big pot to make sure all the greens are evenly cooked. She seemed to be enjoying herself already.

After the greens were cooked, rinsed, and drained, it was time for the groundnuts. They roasted them over the outdoor fire, then Ann used the grinder to make them into a nice paste. She liked turning the big crank, and kept right on grinding through some other ingredients: tomatoes, celery, garlic, ginger, hot pepper, and the like. It made a very nice sauce base.

Then the two of them took two smoked dried fish and separated out all the edible parts, including the heads of course, to add to the sauce later. My big brother Patrick peeled all the cocoyams (it was a big bucket full!) and washed them, putting them in a big pot on the outdoor fire to cook.

Finally it was time to start putting everything together. This called for the indoor fire, a single gas burner. Here is Ann adding the sauce ingredients to some hot oil, as my mother cuts the cooked greens into small bits.

Here's Ann stirring again. I think she likes to stir things. By this time, everything was all together in the big pot, greens, fish parts, sauce, groundnut paste, and some water. It sure smelled good. Ann and I ran around and played some hide-and-seek while we waited for everything to cook.

At last, the cooks get to taste the fruits of their labors! It was very tasty. I ate two big pieces of cocoyam before the greens were finished cooking, but by the time they gave me my little plate of food (see it there on the table?), I was getting kind of grumpy and went to take a nap. Later when I woke up, Ann was still there, and they had saved my plate of food for me. One of my other brothers got home from school and he thought the food was good too. Ann left to return to her house, so we said goodbye because it was time for my bath. It was a good day, and I think she learned quite a lot about how to cook a good meal.

1 comment:

The Laughing Rover said...

WONDERFUL story, Ann!! Is that Gaston and Melanie's place? Did they get new furniture?