Today Sophie (the sister who buys food for us at the Marche and cleans the apartment) came early and cooked an African dinner for us. Most of the locals eat only one meal each day: dinner. And that dinner’s staple is “foo foo”. [See our earlier blog or “google foo foo” for more information.] Only one meal is eaten because the people here are very poor and have only money for one meal each day.
Today Sophie bought the following with Wednesday’s 7000 Congolese franc (divide by 9 to approximate dollars) allotment for food: a few bananas; one papaya; 2 small, flat fish; some small onions; a few green onions (she calls them leeks); a little parsley type vegetable; a bag of okra; a small plastic bag of tomatoes, one sack of cassava flour; and one sack of corn flour.
From home she brought a wooden paddle (for mixing the “foo foo”) and a box of matches and charcoal (fuel in the hibachi outside) but miracles of miracles, we have had electricity all day. Yesterday the power went out at 6:30 and came back at 17:00 (which is our normal routine).
First she filled a pot with water (clean water from our pump and filter) and brought it to a boil while she cleaned the fish, which brought the cats. Sister Ann chopped the tomatoes, greens, onions and okra.
Corn flour with the knife used to clean the two small fish
Pouring cassava flower into the boiling water and corn flour mixture (no salt or seasonings)
Stir. Using her wooden paddle, Sophie vigorously stirred the corn flour into the boiling water.
Stir. Placing the large pot on the floor between her feet, she then stirred in the cassava flour, making a stiff dough which reminded Sister Ann of “play dough”. It helps to put the feet around the pot and to sit on a water jug.
The finished meal. The round ball of dough was then formed into softball-sized balls. Sometime during this process the fish and vegetables were cooked. The "foo foo" is like uncooked bread dough but Sophie's was not slimy
Wash the eating utinsels = the hands Finally a bowl of water for washing hands was placed on the table and dinner was ready.
The eating is accomplished by trapping a morsel from the common bowl with a small ball rolled from the larger foo foo balls.
No plates, no utensils. Just Adam’s fork. With the right hand we each tore off pieces of “foo foo”, rolling it into small balls (still with our right hands) and dipped the ball into the fish/vegetable mixture. Voila! African sandwiches ! “piodi mulembua” (fish in okra) “bidia” (foo foo in the local Congolese language Tchiluba.)
It was “ok” (small letters), less slimy than I had feared.
Pluses: no utensils to wash and only the right hand dirty. Sophie gave Sister Ann her stirring paddle and a small plactic bowl for making foo foo balls.
Minuses: the kitchen was a disaster! But since it’s cleaning day I didn’t “get” to do the dishes today.
We also “get” to have a cheese sandwich for lunch this evening.
Elder William and Sister Ann Moore
PS The two cats had foo foo slathered with leftover fish last night and ate most of it