“Miz Pat, would you like some Maasai soup?”
Traveling to other countries revolves around food for me. I usually travel to parts unknown because I do the cooking for medical teams when they travel. It really is a win-win situation. I provide a service – food – and it keeps me away from helping the dentist pull teeth or from holding steel-cold instruments during a surgical procedure. Important tasks, but realllllly not the tasks for me.
I don’t exactly faint at the sight of blood, but I don’t like seeing it in large quantities. Usually the only blood I see is my own should I nick my finger slicing and dicing the salad. Mostly minor and gets covered rather quickly.
I remember one trip to Kenya when I almost had more blood than I really wanted to see. The Maasai tribal ladies that worked for the eco-lodge where our group was staying were a fun bunch. They were thankful they had a job in such a nice facility. The kitchen had counters where they could mix the food. But the ways of the Kenyan people change very slowly and the counter usually stayed bare as they worked on the floor like they were taught by their mothers growing up.
Most Kenyan ladies have one common complaint and that is back pain. Standing with locked knees, bent at the waist working on the floor or over a fire day after day was very debilitating indeed. But they served to the best of their ability and they were taught well how to provide upscale service for the company retreats that came from Nairobi. For how dark the little kitchen they worked from was, I was amazed at the wonderful food they produced.
We quickly divided up the work for the group and they agreed to serve breakfast and I would fix the traveling lunches and then have dinner waiting when the group returned around sunset. Although the ladies were done after breakfast, they hung around to see what I would cook and later jumped in to learn new techniques and recipes. We had a grand time. We fried donuts and baked rolls in a large pot filled with sand. Really! They filled a large pot about 4 inches or so with sand and set it over the fire to warm for a couple of hours. When everything was evenly heated they set the rolls in, covered them with a lid and placed more coals on top. The rolls baked just like in the oven. Fabulous!
While that was new to me, I showed them how to use my old canning pressure cooker I brought along to quickly cook beans for the group. They were fascinated with it and asked if I would leave it for them. I taught them the best I could on how to handle a pressure cooker and have often wondered if anyone blew it up. I hope not.
Toward afternoon, one of the husbands would drop by for some lunch. He parked his herd of cows outside the compound while looking for something to warm his belly. One day he arrived and the Mrs. was all giggly. She lifted a bowl toward me and asked if I’d like to share her Maasai Soup.
I had already been cautioned about traditional food staples in Kenya. I was mighty glad that I took a pause before automatically accepting because I don’t think I could have taken even one sip of warm soup in the bowl she lifted toward me. The ingredients of the soup consisted of newly caught cow’s blood from a small slit in its neck which was then mixed with fresh cow’s milk.
Haiti will bring more food adventures and I can hardly wait to see and taste the things that whisper Haiti. So far, I have not heard of food items to be wary of but I’m sure there will be something. I love trying new things, and I know not all things will be loved, but they will be fascinating just the same.
I want to check out the fresh fruit and vegetable markets and take in the colors, smells and textures of the region. Maybe learn how those with so little money manage to feed their families. Where can we help them “bridge the gap” so the children can go to school with full bellies ready to learn the lessons for the day.
Yes, I’m looking to help “bridge the gap” instead of teaching cooking techniques and exchanging recipes. There will be many in that gap in Haiti. My prayer is that Jesus will bless the money that we will bring so that we can purchase food supplies for those we serve plus a few more. After all, the Bible tells us He fed the 5,000 from a small boy’s lunch of fish and bread. Do I have enough faith to ask for that miracle?