Saturday, October 24, 2009

food in south africa

People have asked me what have I been eating. That's a great question! Some recipes I've made with local flavor:

tinned fish with tomato
2 servings

1 can pilchards (approx 6oz in size) [sardines, but they dont' call them that here]
1 onion, small dice
1 can tomato (approx 14 oz in size)
olive oil

brown onion in oil in pot. add tomato, simmer on medium heat until water cooks out (approx 20 min.). pull out bones from fish, flake and add to pan. serve with bread. yum

bogobe (pup)
1 serving

1/4-more maize meal (this is pretty much masa harina, or finely ground cornmeal)
1 c water

boil water. add pinch salt. add maize meal slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. stir in more meal if you like it thicker. turn down to simmer, cover. after 20 min or so, stir. cook a few more minutes, then take off the lid. eat with whatever you like, such as beans, vegetables, fish. i usually eat this with steamed green beans, the tinned fish or some lentils.

more later!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gardening Adventures in the Kalahari:
Okie gardener in South Africa

Among many other things, gardening in South Africa is a project I'm working on during my Peace Corps service. Last week, after a few days of rain (yeehaw!), my host family and I set to work turning over the earth, weeding and creating garden beds. Working in the sandy soil here in the Kalahari desert is MUCH easier than working in the clay of Oklahoma. The downside is that we have to water much more often, as the sandy soil drains much faster.

I purchased some seeds at a local ag store in Kuruman (my nearest shopping town), including two varieties of tomatoes, carrots, bush basil, mixed herbs, swiss chard, hot pepper (i think it's cayenne but we'll see) and green beans. They have also requested beets, onion, cabbage and spinach. These are the staple foods of the baTswana people, as well as mealies (corn), which they make into pup, which is a corn porridge. But, I am not equipped for growing corn, so we're going to stick with the more simple veggies.

I used the stake and weave method for my tomatoes, basil and green beans when I left Oklahoma in July, and have heard that it is the most beautiful site to see (I'm blushing), so I'll try to get my family to use that method here, too. They do things differently here, but the purpose of my service is not just to teach, but to also learn. I'm been an apt pupil, I'm happy to report.

I have been saving all my fruit and vegetable peelings, as well as egg shells and teabags to start a compost heap. We are going to dig a big hole in the shape of a garden bed about a foot deep and layer it with animal manure, food scraps and ash. We don't have any grass clippings in the desert, and any wood is used to burn for cooking, or to build fences and brush is used to deter the birds from eating the crops by piling it on top of newly planted beds. We will mix with a shovel periodically, and hopefully have some compost within a month or two, as it's now springtime and working into summer here.

I hope to get my primary schools composting as well, as they both have food gardens. Happy autumn gardening in Oklahoma!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Settling in at site and first field trip

September 17th I arrived at my site, which is a very small village about 20 miles from Kuruman in the Kalahari Desert. There was less than one week of school left before the spring break, so I most observed, then help the educators compile some final reports. I helped do some typing, and the librarian scheme about how to make good changes for the school library. But mostly lots of sitting and waiting. That has been the hardest part, not being busy or not knowing what to do. Just waiting.

The nights are cold but calm, the days get hot and windy, but usually dies down in the evening. Yesterday it rained, which was quite noisy under a tin roof, but pretty exciting. I felt, for the first time, like I was having a true "Peace Corps experience" sitting in my own little house drinking a glass of wine and smoking a cigarette, listening to the rain, snacking on some olives. I get home from school around 3pm, wash my dishes, rest for about an hour (that usually means reading) then do yoga for an hour, then run for an hour. It's really nice to be finished right as the sun is setting.

Sunday night I went with my school on a field trip to Capetown. Capetown, the magical place! It's amazingly beautiful and very different from any other place than South Africa. It was nice to bond with the learners (grade 6 and 7) and my educators. Good to see the bright spots and know that we will all gain from each other.