After conquering my calf-burning hill last night, I arrived home. I’ve been trying to make an effort to make myself more accessible and useful around the house by volunteering to wash the dishes, buying bread in the morning, setting the table, and helping out with diner. I entered our kitchen last night hoping to find some minimal task to do that my host mother would probably have to explain to me in great detail. I was disappointed to discover that diner was already ready (I had returned home last since class ran late), but elated to find out that we were having cous cous. Finally a food I recognized and I know I could eat. I lifted the pan to observe the rice-like entrée, but only to find our usual “yellow yams”. My mother laughed and lifted the lid of orange plastic bucket that held individual baggies of a gelatine-like corn-based blob. My four siblings and mother could have obviously seen the look of bafflement on my face as they all giggled to themselves. Since diner was already ready I offered to set the table and reach for the forks. “Non” my mother laughed, “We use our hands, but you can use a fork.” As if I wasn’t quite ready for the cous cous cultural emersion – baby steps are necessary.
We sat down to diner and my host mama dished up a couple scoops of “Gumbo” in each our our bowls. It was an interesting concoction of actual ground up gumbo – which is a green pepperish plant with a little bit of a kick – meat – still not quite sure of what kind – various veggies, and something that makes it into a brown slimy sauce. I waited for the others to start eating to observe their technique, which involves tearing off a chunk of the blob and circular scooping/dipping motion in the bowl of gumbo. After a couple tries with my hands I gave in and took up the comfort of using my fork. It actually turned out to be pretty good and by the end of the meal, I would say that I have graduated the novice class cous cous scooping. My host papa shared stories of growing up on cous cous with his nine other siblings. There are a ton of different sauces one can make to accompany the cous cous. Apparently up north, which is where we will be travelling to later, cous cous is its own food group. Therefore, I anticipate plenty more cous cous adventures to come.
Thanks for those who wrote to me. I really love hearing from back home. Every chance I get I’ll try to give you my brief Cameroon update, but the internet accessibility is pretty scarce here. I miss you and love you all!!!!