31 December 2010

First of many random food related posts

It's interesting how this is the first food-related post of mine as a PCV given all the interesting mishaps and successes we have all had with local food here in Sierra Leone!

Ok so during the early days as a freshly minted Peace Corps volunteer, back when everything was so new, foreign, intimidating (still seems that way sometimes!), and exciting, I decided to do a random food experiement. I was bored one day and had on me a bag of raw palm kernels, some salt, a loaf of locally made white bread, and a killer appetite. This was back when I was still trying to navigate the complex foodways of Bumbuna, Sierra Leone and didn't quite know what my next meal would be. What would seem like a random vichyssoise of ingredients to most people was to me at the time a complete meal! So thus began the experiment...

Behold the palm kernels

You take a piece of bread, dipped in a small amount of salt (Iodized if your feeling fancy that particular day) and take a bite

You take one palm kernel (Your fingers may get stained in the process...don't worry, this is normal)

And take a sizeable bit of the selected palm kernel, taking care to leave behind the stringy pulp, with the salted bread still in mouth

Then chew chew chew the mish-mash together, taking note of the ohh so complex, bitter and oily undertones of the palm kernels and the way they blend together with the salty, earthiness of the locally made bread, all up in your mouth, giving you a satisfying and memorable eating experience!!...Then Repeat at least 15 times...or at least until you feel like throwing up, it's your call ;)

Note: I'm not responsible for any unintentional staining of the lips, teeth, clothing, and/or fingers during this experience.

30 December 2010

Christmas Na Bumbuna

Masquerade fun in Kamankay!

Na mi firs Chrismas away from me fambul dem (This was my first christmas away from my family) and it was great! Although not because I was away from my family, simply because, Christmas in Bumbuna was that good. Sierra Leoneans from all over the country, even some from Europe and America came to spend Christmas in Bumbuna. Bumbuna's populations is already swelling due to the presence of the two companies: African Minerals and Salini Construction. The electricity in my village is also another reason why so many people in Sierra Leone are trying to press their luck in Bumbuna. Christmas day was not so much as festive as the day after Christmas...what's known as Boxing Day, which to my knowledge is not widely observed back in the states. To be honest I really didn't do that much on Christmas day. I relaxed and ate food with my neighbors and baked them some peanut butter bread (which they loved!...Peace Corps recipe) in a dutch oven with local materials: A coal pot cooker, metal pot, sand, a small baking tin, and a small empty tin can. I didn't take pictures, but it's really easy to do. Next time I bake I will document it. On Boxing Day, the tradition here is to spend the day at the Bumbuna waterfalls drinking, enjoying good food and music, and having a grand-ole time. There were actually two outings: The one at the Bumbuna Waterfalls, and the other in Kamankay, where I live, down at the rivers edge, again with music, food, drink, and merriment.

Later that evening, there were two dances held. one in Bumbuna and one in Kamankay. I of course attended both and had a blast dancing and having fun with all the beautiful people. I get the impression that the best places to spend your holidays is in the village instead of Freetown. Freetown tends to get too congested at this time of the year because of the influx of holiday travelers. So how ironic it is for me to writing this post from Freetown. I was originally going to spend it at another PCV's village, but I had an emergency situation with my macbook pro charger. It quit working altogether so at the recommendation of one Peace Corps staffer, I traveled to Freetown to have it looked it by a computer specialist. Afterwards I was told that the voltage regulator was completely fried and replacing it would be impossible. Unfortunately Apple hasn't made it's way over to Sierra Leone so for the time being, I'm without a laptop, until my family can send one over to me.

Until I recieve it (If I recieve it) posts will be fairly limited :(

Patricia and I, the yogurt lady, at Bumbuna Waterfalls

Some of my neighbors in Kamankay at the Kamankay outing on Boxing day...There is a strange, inexplicable contrast going on here