me cook? not today.

It was a good plan, really.  Should have worked like a charm.

When Greg and I set out our fundraising for CUSO-VSO, we promised to do “monthly assignments” for each contributor.  One a month.  Sounded easy.  Of course, we needed a bit of time to settle in and see what we’d be able to do.

So while we were researching some of the more involved assignments, I decided that, as a story for my parents who appreciate good food, I would get a cooking lesson on traditional northern Cameroonian cooking: folere and couscous.  I would capture the whole experience in photos and anecdotes.  I asked Mairamou, one of the girls from APAD whom I also affectionately call “my little seamstress”, to teach Catherine and I one weekend while Greg was away.  Men not being allowed in Cameroonian kitchens, this seemed perfect.

Mairamou transfering the now hot shelled millet into a bag to bring home

On Saturday we ventured out to the market to get the millet.  Had it shelled in a large industrial machine in between buckets of dried corn.  I don’t know how a person with Crohn’s disease would do here since there is no such thing as cleaning out the equipment between grains.  But alas, we’re not supposed to ponder these things too profoundly.

Mairamou brought the shelled millet home (still hot from the shelling) to wash and have ground.  We missed that part, but have a pretty good idea of how milling into flour works.

“Oh,” I thought to myself, ” this is going to be a really neat assignment!”

Then Saturday night became my downfall.  “The last one standing” finally fell.  Nausea and dizziness overcame me, and I had to leave a nice party at the Mamelle Laitière with all the VSO volunteers and crawl into bed.  I made it through the night just fine.  Green and pale, sweating and shivering all at once, but all in one piece none the less.  I felt really tough.  Thought Greg would be proud.

By the time Catherine arrived in the morning, triumphant with her fresh meat purchase, I was an even worse shade of green.  Though I tried my best to stay with the process of making folere with Mairamou and Catherine, I could barely stay upright.  The nausea was getting worse.  The two of them probably had enough of me by then and I was force-fed medicine.  I promptly passed out in a gravol-induced stupor, wrapped in a fetal position around my quilting, and missed every step of the cooking process: from when the folere leaves went into the cooking pot to when the meal was beautifully served on the table.

Therefore, the monthly assignment on cooking Cameroonian food will not happen – at least not for a while.  However, Catherine’s take on the experience might just serve to wet your appetite… or at least your curiosity.

NB.  Retribution for publishing an embarrassing picture of yours truly will be sought in some form or another when least expected!

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~ by Caroline Spira on February 1, 2010.

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