Posted by: kristinej | March 8, 2010

March 8th

I had a very fun, American-themed weekend.  Awhile ago I had told my host mom that I would cook an “American sauce” sometime, and she kept asking me about it, so on Saturday Becky, Daniella, and I joined forces to make spaghetti with tomato sauce, garlic bread, and brownies.  We could get everything for the sauce, except for the spices, at the market, so we went there and basically just guessed how much of everything to get since we didn’t have a recipe and were going to be feeding about 10-12 people.  The girls came over at about 3, and by the time we got the stoves set up, found all the bowls and utensils we needed, and mixed up the brownie mix (sent to us from the US), it was already 4.  Since we obviously don’t have an oven, we set up a “bush oven.”  To do this you start a fire on the little coal stove, put on a large pot with a layer of rocks and water at the bottom, and then set a smaller pot with the brownie mix in it on top of the rocks, cover both pots, and let it cook, adding more water as needed.  We have made several box cakes like this, and they turned out really well, but unfortunately after about 4 hours the brownies were still not totally cooked, and we had to take them off to cook the spaghetti.  We still cut it up into tiny wedges for everyone, since the kids especially had seemed most excited about the “gateau.”

We figured we didn’t need to start cooking the sauce for awhile, so we played with the worker girl’s baby for awhile, shared Yirimadjo gossip, and watched “True Blood” on the computer.  So, when my host mom got home at around 6 and saw that we were just starting to cut up the vegetables, she was like, “You guys are good for nothing!  You’ve done nothing in the 3 hours you’ve been here!”  So little faith.  Anyway, we cooked the sauce and spaghetti, and made garlic bread by spreading a garlic-oil mix on baguettes and waving them over the fire to toast them.  Amazingly, the sauce turned out tasting really good and my family actually said that they liked it and ate a lot – usually Malians take about one bite of American food that we make and say they’re full.  So that was a fun cultural exchange, though I probably won’t be doing that too often since it was hard work and a bit expensive (and by expensive, I mean that I spent about $10).

Sunday was Cailey’s birthday so after sweating it out at home all morning we went to the house of an American woman who works for an NGO here in Bamako and for whom Cailey has house-sit before.  She has a pool and so had invited us over for a pool party, complete with beer and fajitas.  It was fabulous!  Even just being in the pool for a short while made me feel so much cooler for the rest of the afternoon, and so clean!  On the way home we stopped by the gas station that has a frozen yogurt machine and got cones for ourselves and for our taxi driver as well.  Perhaps the highlight of the evening, though, was when another taxi driver pulled up next to us and started the usual last name exchange.  Cailey, upon hearing that he was Coulibaly, told him that he eats beans, but he didn’t hear so she actually stuck her head out the window and yelled “YOU EAT BEANS!”  Hahaha only in Mali!

As a side note, today is International Women’s Day.  They make a special fabric for this day each year, and while I didn’t buy this year’s I do have the fabric from 2009.  I did buy the fabric for Mali’s 50th anniversary (Mali got its independence from France in 1960) and got an outfit made, which turned out really well EXCEPT that the pattern is upside-down on my shirt – not the skirt or the sleeves – just the front and back of the shirt.  And what’s funny is that no one even cares, or at least they haven’t said anything.

OH and I am now not the only Project Muso volunteer who has fallen in a sewer – Cailey joined those ranks on Friday when she tripped and fell into a sewer ditch and was pretty much immersed from the waist down.  Luckily she wasn’t hurt, but it was still not a pretty site.  (Sorry Cailey)

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