Our time in Tsevie was greatly enhanced by good, home-cooked meals. Tammy has been able to make friends with quite a few locals - partly because she speaks French so well - and her friendships enabled us to visit the homes of several local families. We learned the local cuisines and also some of the local culture.
Wednesday was a slow day for me, because I woke up with some stomach issues, and slight fever and chills. That day, I hung out at Tammy's while John and Tammy made forays into town for various food stuffs and house repair items. Thursday, John woke up with the same issues I had, so we both started taking the antibiotic for dysentery that the doctor in the US had given us, and we felt better almost right away.
But other than that, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were adventures into the local culture. This post and the next will focus on the food, and the one after that will focus on our trip to a local village.
Tammy cooks us meals
Tammy made us a couple fish and vegetable dishes, served with either rice or "pot". She would tell us "it's a simple meal to make" but each time, it seemed like she spent hours in preparation. The fish was smoked fish; smoking is a good way to preserve fish when you don't have refrigeration. The spice base for most of the dishes she prepared is a mixture of fresh garlic, ginger, and local chiles, put into a mortar and ground to a homogeneous mush. The vegetables are greens, local small eggplants, onions, and tomatoes. To make the "pot", we took the dried corn we had bought at the market to a local stall and they ground it in a big machine. She mixed the ground corn with water and cooked it, then put pieces of it in the vegetable/fish sauce. It's very good - we both liked it.
Party at Tammy's
On Wednesday, about ten friends of Tammy's came over for a dinner party. The group of friends included both locals and Becky, another PC volunteer. The main food item was Tammy's favorite local dish, called "fufu
The fufu was made from plantains and yams, although other combinations of starches can be used. The yams are huge, root-like vegetables that we saw sold all over Ghana and Togo. For fufu, these are peeled and then boiled. Then, they are put in a huge wooden bowl and pounded with a large mallet for about an hour. The whole process a couple hours. Traditionally, the men take turns doing the pounding, and the women move the mixture around under the mallet between pounds. When the pounding is finished, the fufu has a consistency of sticky mashed potatoes.
Group photo - Tammy's party.
The fufu was served in a sauce-soup-like mixture consisting of chicken, tomatoes, and other vegetables; it was seasoned with the same garlic-ginger-chile mixture Tammy used before. As was the "pot", people eat fufu with their hands, using it to scoop up the sauce mixture. Fufu isn't supposed to be eaten too late in the day, as it's considered "too heavy" for the digestive system. In fact, by soon after 6 pm, most families are home and have finished their evening meal.
Just about everyone at the party had some sotobe, a distilled palm liquor
. (I looked this up online, and according to Wikipedia, it's spelled "sodabe".) It's similar in taste to tequila, so John taught them to drink it as shots with lime and salt. During so much of the time spent with locals, John and I were left out of the conversation, since we don't speak French. But the sotobe made the language issue less of a problem!
Remember that I mentioned that we left some material at the tailor's
to be made into outfits? Well, near the end of the party, the tailor came by and delivered a skirt for me and a shirt for John. He had them done in one day, and the total charge, including the material, for both outfits was less than $15 US! He did a great job!
John in his shirt.
Patty in her skirt.
Next: Home-cooked meals part 2.