Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Weekly Update 5

Welcome to YWAM Hopeland’s kitchen. In this open concrete building over one hundred staff and students are fed daily. The children and I prepared the after church meal in Texas for roughly about the same amount of folks at the Tyler base each Sunday last year. When people asked if I was a good cook I would correct them and say, “No, I’m just good at warming food up,” (mostly what we cooked was boxed or frozen). How else could one person make chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and roasted cauliflower for a hundred people? In Africa I’ve worked a couple of dinner preps and it is just the opposite. 

Everything is raw and sometimes out of their own garden, which means dirty. So you sit on a bench and you peel it or take it to the sink and wash it. Greens and cabbage get shredded. Onions and tomatoes get diced. Fruit gets chopped. Then the fires get built. The kitchen has four wood burning stoves, the picture to the right shows beans in a pressure cooker. They start with long logs and keep pushing them in till the food is cooked. All the pots have a thick layer of soot on the outside which remains beyond clean-up because there isn’t enough soap in Uganda to clean them at this point. If you have worked in an open kitchen before you know resources have a tendency to walk away so the knives and cutting boards are an assortment of cast-offs that nobody cared to “borrow.” I’m sure they use the repaired bottoms of the pots for identification. “Bring me the three patch pot. No, the one with the rivets, not the welds.” Despite all these challenges the food can be filling if you can eat enough.

The components repeat daily so if you come to Africa let me give you the breakdown of what to expect. The first pot will be rice or posho. The second pot could be small russet potatoes, pasta, or white sweet potato. The third pot might be beans, collard greens, or stewed cabbage. Some days a tomato cucumber salad, pineapple, watermelon, or avocado makes it to the service which helps to break up the plate of off-white food. To accommodate everybody portions are strictly doled out. Special meals will include the local chapati flatbread, a beef soup, or sliced sausage added to the cabbage, these are especially limited. Basic foods and plenty of them, well at least plenty of posho.

Needless to say, every food related post we see on Facebook fills us with longing and fond memories of life back in the States. We have hope to increase the food variety and availability of vegetables at Hopeland through our Sustainable Agriculture Course. This will benefit the locals in healthier ways to eat and give our foodie friends a reason to visit us here in Uganda. Thank you for your support.

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