Friday, 20 nov 2009, Accra:
Today, surprisingly, is the first day since my arrival in Africa I’ve wanted to spend time writing something about anything—about the people I’ve met, the things that I’ve done, the food that I’ve eaten, or the food I don’t know how to cook.
At various points in my life, I’ve either publicly proclaimed or silently avowed to learn how to cook; how to treat spices like the fine epicurean accessories they truly are. I have triumphantly failed, however, every single damned time, to learn anything about cooking, save how to improve my delegation skills in the kitchen.
For example: give Jacob a fish and it will be zesty, delightful, remarkable and downright scrumptious. Desmond, despite having grown up on grilled cheese sandwiches and leftover swigs of beer from cans of Coors, knows what quinoa is and how to make a mean taco (examples unrelated). He is also an inexorable seasoner—diner AND dinner beware. That man will shake on black pepper till his hand hurts, until you’re unable to distinguish between green and red peppers, onions and potatoes. I delegate thusly: if you’d like a bite from his plate, take one before he goes nuts with the pepper.
Further example (I’m having fun with this, in case you can’t tell): It is an utter waste of time to give Amber a recipe. Just give her an idea. Anneliese, though small enough in stature to brush off as a fussy eater, is in fact a huge fan of hamburgers. And Mom, well, she can pull together absolutely any sort of dish; you just have to convince her to try and, on occasion, purchase the proper serving piece.
You get my point.
Upon meeting Tracy, moving into her spare bedroom and spending the following two days with her, I was pleased to learn that she’s a wiz in the kitchen. YAY for me, cause like I said, I’m about as clueless and lazy as they come. If it were up to me, I’d eat white rice and pineapple for breakfast because I don’t know how to make French toast—which is exactly what I did one of my first mornings in Accra.
Unfortunately, the time Tracy and I’ve spent together thus far has been two days. I left for Cote d’Ivoire the Sunday after the Friday I arrived in Accra, and when I returned, she was in the middle of a trip to Sierra Leone. The one and only meal we shared before our departures was—are you ready for this—rice and lentils. However, she’s promised to teach me how to do all sorts of things in the kitchen, with a shared bottle of cheap red wine as a necessary part of our lesson plan. YAY again for me! Learning is AWESOME!