Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Preparing Supper at Dama Road #55

Supper was just one of the many responsibilities of the day. During times when rice was in abundance - usually just after harvest in February or March - meals were big and people were generous. Wood was collected daily for the kitchen fires. Young children were often part of the labor force in this regard. Rice was stored in large burlap bags, and as shown here, pounding the rice with mortar and pestle removed the covering. Cooking was usually an afternoon activity with meal time in the evening. It was said that a Mende man had not eaten until he had his rice. Many a night as I would return from an outing I would be asked to come eat. It was said to be rude if you refused so needless to say, many a night I was too well-fed. [Mende: "awa mu mehe me," or in Krio: "cum le wi eat no."]. On the few times that I had to refuse one could respond: Ngi mehemia sangee." People were both very generous and somewhat amused by this. The rice was upland rice grown on the hillsides around Kenema. Farmers of the area did not like working in the swamps. The "Mende" or local rice was far better then the store bought Carolina Rice. It had almost a meaty taste to it. On the rice various sauces would be added including casava leaf, or potato leaf. When available meat would be added such as beef, cutting grass, guinea pig (from Mrs. Porter). On holidays a speciality was Jolliffe Rice which had chicken in it. All meals were accompanied by hot pepper - something that took me about two months to get used to. One meal that I did not like was something called Fufu, which was made of pounded casava. I did not like its smell or taste.

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