Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

ET Cooking lessons!

When I travel and spend time in other countries, my favorite "souvenir" is to learn how to cook dishes that remind me of my trip. I am always asking people what their favorite food is and how they cook it, from taxi drivers, to people I randomly meet at museums, to waitresses. There is a very sweet woman named Zufan, who works at TDS as a cook. After talking with her, we found out the she has gone to culinary school and loves cooking traditional Ethiopian food. I was so excited to ask her if we would hire her to hold a "cooking class" for us adoptive parents, who hope to be able to prepare some dishes for our kids when we get back home. She agreed, and helped us make a shopping list. Another mom and I walked over 2 hours (with kids in carriers!) to different supermarkets to get the ingredients we needed for our feast. Just for the record, I also had Engida in the carrier for another 3 hours in the afternoon for his nap- my back and shoulders are killing me!!!! Even thought I am in constant pain, it is so worth it!! We are really connecting and I love snuggling with him. So Zufan we acquired all of the vegetables on Zufan's list and headed back to the guesthouse.

So once we brought in the ingredients, Zufan had us prepping, washing, peeling and chopping the veggies-- of course I had asked her to teach us everything on the fasting menu!!! :) We made beets, cabbage with carrots and potatoes, lentil curry, lentils with berbere, green beans with carrots, and shiro (from what I understood, shiro is garbanazo beans and garlic which are dried in the sun, and then ground into a powder/flour). Everything started with a huge amount of leeks, and purple onions, which she chopped in the blender so we wouldn't be "crying." She fried these in oil in 6 different pans, for a very long time until they were soft- the smell filled the kitchen and other housekeepers stopped by to see who was cooking. To each pot she had us adding different veggies in differing orders depending on their cooking time- I had no idea the food was cooked in oil and then left to kind-of steam in the oil. I had never cooked like this and I would have expected it to burn, but apparently using that much oil and then covering, there is enough moisture in the veggies. To some we added tumeric, garlic, and some we also finished off with raw green pepper (which she admitted she was using instead of chiles because she thought it would be too spicy for us). She arranged a friend of hers to drop off fresh injera, which were ridiculously cheap. I peaked into the black plastic bag of huge injera circles that had been folded in half, and then half again. Zufan saw me, and showed me how to take an injera, roll it up like a carpet, and then cut it into 3 or 4 piece. Then she laid them nicely onto a platter she had brought and instructed me to do the same in the evening for our "celebration." She brought me more serving platters, and helped me arrange the tables and chairs with placemats. I was so sad that she wouldn't be there to enjoy the feast- she had class at night and would have to miss it.

After everything was finished, Zufan served a sampler platter for us to preview our creations (really her creations!). The kids came in when they smelled the amazing food and literally dug into the platter faster than we could realize what was happening. They expertly used their right hands to tear off bits of injera and grab juicy vegetables and sauce. I never saw Engida eat so neatly!! It was obvious that the kids were expert injera eaters, and way more competent and effective with their fingers than with these clumsy forks and spoons we force upon them. Normally Engida is covered with food by the end of the meal- yet after this snack his face was spotless, his unstained hands dry of the sauce. I read somewhere that you can tell a foreigner in Ethiopia by their red-strained fingernails- Engida is obviously a proud citizen who knows how to use his injera! Lemat (far right) was by far the best- and all of them finished the entire platter in a matter of minutes. I have in on video and I can't wait to figure out how to get the videos off my camera and onto this blog!

There was a little competition towards the end, as the kids were trying to finish every last drop- can you imagine how mealtimes were at the orphanage? I think we got a visual taste of it today:). After the cooking was done Ricky got to take a nap int he carrier while I walked around, invited the other families at the hotel for dinner, and checked email. At the internet cafe you can make really cheap skype-ish type calls home, and Engida slept right through it! After naps we played on the roof with playdough and bubbles- the picture on the left is Engida about to stand up on a bench and attempt to climb over the back (I obviously stopped him before he jumped off).

Our feast was incredible if I do say so myself:). The food was so, so good- I can't imagine making food like this at home- it was that good!!! The kids and adults loved it and we finished almost all of it. We had invited Binyam (Ben- TDS's owner's nephew who has helped us all so much this week) and Mimi. There was just enough to make the security guards each a platter, as well as the housekeepers and a special one for Zufan.

The long tables filled with laughter and conversation had the spirit of a huge family dinner, and with our shared experiences in Ethiopia, I'm pretty sure everyone here considers each other extended family:). Adoption does that- you have an intensely emotional and intimate week and at the end you've added more than your new child to your family- you've gained pseudo aunts and uncles and cousins who will stay in touch for life.


Marie Elena said...

Becky -
I am on the wait list - so a very long way away from this experience you have so graciously shared. I couldn't help but comment on such a truly beautiful memory you've opened up. So many blessings - thank you for sharing - from someone who appreciates a wonderful meal with family - which clearly you all had all the way around.
Marie Elena

Viv and Pete said...

What a priceless evening and memories for a lifetime! Not to mention how delicious the food was ( :