Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Helping in the kitchen

Today was the first day I legitimately helped cook a meal in Ghana. Yes, if you do the math, I have been in Ghana throughout my various trips here for quite a number of days. And yes, I was cooked for every single one of those days. So what changed today? Well, 1: I am currently unemployed, meaning I am in the house all day, and more importantly, 2: Beatrice, the lady who cooks and washes our laundry for us is currently traveling. Ya, number 2 is a much bigger reason as to why I helped cook today. For the first few days that she was gone, I ‘cooked’ rice in the rice cooker and we ate it with stew that she prepared before she left to travel but yesterday I finally declared that I couldn’t eat any more rice. I sure Alex was happy to hear that because he is stuck eating whatever Beatrice or I prepare before he arrives home from work!
Alex has been asking me, no, begging me to stay in the kitchen with Beatrice since we hired her three weeks ago so I could learn to cook the Ghanaian way but I just wasn’t so in to that idea. I mean, in all honesty, I would much rather eat a meal cooked and prepared by someone else than by myself. But today, Prince, one of Alex’s brothers and I went to the market (oh ya, Beatrice does our food shopping too) as we were out of most fresh vegetables and a few other necessary items. Now, think about your local farmer’s market. Then, multiply the size of the space and number of people by about 30, increase the volume by 25, and add a very bright, strong sun and a ton of humidity and you get the market that we went to. And of course, don’t forget to add the flies that are swarming around the fish (which smells horrific) and other open food and you really get a sense of where we went. Its no wonder I have hired someone to do this for me, right? I mean its an adventure, but not an adventure I am willing to embark on twice, or even once every single week. After purchasing cabbage, lettuce, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, yams, plantains, salad dressing, and a few other items, Prince and I returned to the house to begin cooking.
Now, in terms of the kitchen…we don’t really technically have one. Basically, the room that we are renting is located in a house, without a kitchen. Ya, brilliant design, right? I mean, a lot of people cook outside but really, I might be more willing to help cook if there was an indoor kitchen.  There is a fridge and microwave in the house and a table in the hall where we keep all of our non-perishable food items and cooking utensils. The landlady is building a hotel in front of the house and because they are still working on the hotel (very slowly, if I may say) we use one of the rooms of the ground level for the kitchen area. There a few tables and stools that have been put in the room and the coal cookers are in there too. We have purchased a gas cylinder, which is like a big container to hold gas, and a stove top type cooker (it has 2 burners) but we have had quite a difficult time getting gas for the cylinder. Finally, yesterday, Alex came home and said that there was gas at the gas station and that we should go and fill the cylinder today. So off Prince and I went, with the gas cylinder, to the filling station, only to find out that once again, they were out of gas. So before heading to the market, we had to turn back, return to the house, and drop off the cylinder because that thing, even when it isn’t filled, is heavy and bulky.
Prince and I made do with the coal cooker and boiled yams and potatoes and made a vegetable stew to go with it. We also made a beautiful salad. We ate some of the food for lunch and saved the rest for this evening’s dinner. Prince departed after we cleaned up and I proceed to take a nap. Its amazing how tiring it is to go food shopping and cook here. I honestly was so exhausted from it that I slept for about 3 hours. It sure makes you appreciate all the women here who work all day, take care of the kids, AND cook in this country. It sure is a lot more work than it seems.
I took photos of the delicious food that we prepared but you will just have to wait about 2 more weeks until I get my computer charger before those photos are posted.  

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