Saturday, 18 June 2011

Amakuru? I'm a haiku!

Nachos, beer, cookies
One word in Kinyarwanda:

Greetings big wide world!  The past weekend has been a time for lazy indulgence and brave culinary adventures.    I headed up to Rulindo for a few days to chill out and take advantage of friends with computers and electricity.  After two days of hiking, Gleeing, and frisbeeing, Keira and I made a nacho-fueled decision to stay up way past our bedtimes and make cookies.  Warning to the faint of heart--the following account contains a scene of graphic egg-cracking.  Some of you may wish to skip to the end...

We started out with a recipe.  It was a good recipe, the sort of soccer moms from Ohio gave unanimous rave reviews on and the like.  Simple chocolate chip cookies.  Simple and delicious.  Simple, and fool-proof.  Simple, but not Rwanda-proof.

We should have known that any recipe that called for a preheated oven and the use of an electric blender was doomed to failure.  While the flames of the imbabura gently flickered, creating a (in retrospect) glow of warm foreboding, I began to assemble the ingredients.  Surprisingly, we had everything we needed, aside from white sugar, an oven, a blender, and a cookie sheet.

It was all going so well.  The Blue Band was creamed into the sugar, and the splash of vanilla helped to mask the offensive ambiance coming from my unwashed socks.  I felt accomplished.  After an eight month hiatus, I was Baking again.  Those of you who survived the Great Muffin Invasion of 2010 will appreciate how difficult it has been for me to not putter around the kitchen on a lazy afternoon.

Then disaster struck.  Refrigeration in not exactly common in the country (my school actually has a P6 science text book that describes a refrigerator the way a zoologist might describe an exotic species of bird).  Although most food keeps far longer than I would have believed possible back in the states, you still run of the risk of getting the occasional bad egg.  Literally.  I suspect that a bad egg was the inspiration for the original stink bomb.  Within a few seconds, my sweet, sugary confection had been transformed into a reeking, rancid puddle of fail.  It only took a few more seconds for the smell to permeate the entire living room.

But, in the true spirit of the intrepid Peace Corps volunteer, Keira and I decided to forge on ahead, with new eggs and a more cautious outlook on life.  No more sugar?  Sketchy eggs?  Lack of measuring utensils?  Suddenly that simple recipe, so revered by housewives the world over, became simply laughable.  This is Rwanda, and we don't need no stinking recipes.

Fast-forward three hours, when the first batch of cookies was finally removed from pot-in-a-pot-on-a-charcoal-fire of an oven (prior to tonight, it was my firm belief that any device requiring that many hyphen won't be successful.  It just didn't seem possible).  Then something miraculous happened.  These hybrid cookies, these disastrous love children of misfortune and stubborn persistence, were...good.  Betty Crocker, urabesha cyane.

Oh, and before I forget, here's a shout out to Dennis DeVerna.  Those candy bars you send Heather a few months ago were amazing.  Thanks for raising a daughter who knows the value of sharing (or that a lack of sharing can lead to a revoking of bathroom privileges...).

1 comment:

  1. Too bad your mother didn't teach you her ninth grade home economics lesson on eggs. "Always crack your egg into its own bowl in case it is bad."