Visiting village kitchens is always one of my favorite things to do. During my last rip I was invited home to see my Malawi family. She asked if I wanted her to prepare dinner for us, and I asked if I could actually help prepare it. She was excited and said she would provide the ingredients from the farm and assign me some jobs. At home, we we are invited to bring dishes, I sometimes wonder if we are being assessed on what our ‘skill level’ is before asking us to bring certain foods. I think this happens in Malawi as well.
I have always loved camping and learning survival skills here in America. I love cooking outside over fires and practicing recipes including dutch oven pizzas, deserts, smores, tinfoil wrapped dinners, foil wrapped baked potatoes, etc.
My first assignment was to prepare the sliced cucumbers. I love Malawi cucumbers, they are sweet and better than an apple. I could easily eat cucumbers for every meal and they are the first thing I crave after I leave. I was handed a dull knive, a large cucumber and a small plastic plate. I was sitting on a cinderblock and held held the plat on my lap while I cut. They all enjoyed watching me struggle, but I knew I would enjoy eating the cucumbers, so I didn’t worry.
My second task was to slice the okra and leaves to prepare them for the boiling soda water. I could see my slow work was entertaining to them. They never show frustration, just a lot of smiles and giggles. I loved receiving the step by step instructions.
The most difficult challenge for me was the amount of smoke in the small room. I do not know how they can manage through it. I struggled to breathe and had to leave the room several times just to get air. I am always amazed and humbled by these women.
The kitchen was full this day, as I think they really enjoyed having their first foreigner trying to live like a Malawian for a day. They are always so kind and welcoming to me. It is a place tha if I am ever lost, I hope they are the ones that find me.
I absolutely cherish the lessons I learned and the brave family that allowed me to cook for them. Of course, I only made the simple stuff. Agnes took care of preparing the chicken and the nsima. Maybe next time I will get to learn that part.
I love this family and the patience they have with me. I am inspired for their strong family relationships, their love of God, and their attitude that everything will be ok because God is aware of them. I can’t wait to go back for lesson number 2.