Never has making a little kid throw up made me so happy.
Not the first line you were expecting, was it? And for the record, I don’t think I have ever made any little kids throw up before. Tonight I made dinner for my host family. I wanted to make something that was true blood American through and through. I also wanted to do something that a PVT had never made before, that meant that pizza was out or “Peter” as my host mom and dad so endearingly call it. However, it had to be easy enough so that I could make it over a wood fire, so no oven, used no more than one pot/pan. Lastly it had to be something we could eat with our hands since my family owns two forks, two spoons, one butter knife, and one sharp cutting knife. The answer to what to make may be obvious to some; sadly it took me almost two weeks to think it up.
The answer . . . Cheeseburgers! Only my Bamaayo (host mother) had ever heard of them before, and that was after I had explained to her what they were. So I made the exciting 45km trip to Lusaka in order to pick up all that was needed. While at the grocery store I ran into many moral issues such as: do I buy the tide and true condiments that give hamburgers and cheeseburgers there flair and messy awesomeness? While knowing all along that they need to be refrigerated after opening, meaning that they will go bad very fast since we have no such thing to keep them cold, making them a waste of money? Also new foods are scary enough as it is. Why make it harder burdening these poor people with the choice or adding ketchup or mustered? I mean come on, do you remember the first time you had sushi? Frightening. It took me so long to eat my first roll. The issue of if the food would be too rich came across my mind as well; I didn’t want to make anyone sick, thus giving me a bad name as a cook and ruining burgers for them forever! See, we eat the same bland thing every night umbwali (corn meal and water made so thick you can (and do) roll it into a little ball, imprinting your thumb into it, then using it to scoop whatever “relish” you are eating that night (cut up greens or cabbage, with either soya pieces, a kind of salty potato like bush root, or maybe beans) up with it and your thumb). Our two seasonings used are salt and cups of oil. So you can see my concern. Last but not least, they asked for “peter” and I told them no, that I would make it some other weekend, that I wanted them to try something new first. So I was going against what they wanted, making something greasy out of two things the hardly ever eat, red meat and dairy, and to top it off not even giving them the full experience (no condiments and no lettuce or pickles).
As they watched me start to make the burgers I could tell that they were all pretty nervous, and I was too. I was cooking three patties at a time for the nine of us, on a frying pan. I was sitting on a small three legged stool, and each time I flipped a burger I would burn my legs since I was A) using a fork to flip the patties B) the grease was building up in the pan bouncing onto me, and C) I had to startle the frying pan/ fire. Job (10) doesn’t eat meat, so I made him a grilled cheese. Finally, after toasting the buns, adding tomato and onion, they were ready, and I was forced to let my burgers speak for themselves and soon everyone was eating in a content silence. What I consider a sign of a good meal. Sadly I forgot to put out the chips I bought with the burger, but they were a welcomed surprise when they were done eating. Bertha, my 18-year-old cousin, was so excited when she saw them she ran out of the kitchen. Two medium sized bags were gone before I put set them down on the ground.
Next and last stop was dessert, S’mores! I mean come on, who doesn’t love s’mores? Well Mulolo (3) found out that he does not like marshmallows, it was everyone’s first time trying those too. But he loved the chocolate the Tennis Biscuits, which are so amazing! They were my substitute for gram crackers. They are delicious biscuit/ cracker that is honey and coconut flavored, but not over powering. I wish they had them in the states! Well in my mitts of the s’more excitement, and Mulolo probably on his first sugar high, was jumping up and down and giggling. It was the cutest thing . . . until he threw up some of his chocolate. Woops. This made everyone laugh, it was quickly cleaned up; and God love him, Mulolo rallied right back, and continued jumping up and down. All in all I must say that cheeseburger and s’more night was a great success and if it was not so much money, I would make a special dinner every week. But alas, I am living on a volunteer’s salary, so I will only be able to do one other dinner. I’m thinking, “peter”.