Sunday, May 25, 2008

This morning, we sat around watching the rain fall. “West African television” I call it as we sit in our locally made (out of sticks and goat hide) garden chairs out on the covered terrace.
The trees whip around and the rain pours down in sheets. It’s violent, but not really vicious like a bad storm back in Nebraska. And it makes good watching from a nice, relatively dry terrace.

The power was cut, so there was nothing much to do but sit and watch the rain come down. It was a nice way to spend a Sunday morning.

It’s 1 pm now and still raining, but much more gently. I bet the farmers are really thrilled. Everyone is so anxious to get the crops in this year. Belts have gotten beyond tight to crushingly constricting as the price of food here (and worldwide) has risen so dramatically over the last months. These days I notice women walking the dirt roads of Ouaga, selling pale yellow cakes from baskets balanced on their heads. These cakes are made of neere powder (from neere tree pods). It’s considered “famine food”- cheap and not very tasty. It’s what you eat when there’s nothing else. This it’s the first time I’ve seen it being sold in the streets of the capital city.

So, everyone is waiting for the rains and the new crops to start growing. And certainly the rain will be a good boost for the local market gardens. It’s been weeks since there was any cauliflower and the green beans are very tough and stringy. Tomatoes have gotten super-expensive.

I was writing up the household menu this morning. I plan it four weeks at a time on a big calendar and then post it on the side of the fridge. A month of salads (lettuce or beets or leeks or whatever), a main dish, sides and desert. I never dreamed that I’d be so organised, but it’s the only way to manage a household here really well. It allows you to order your meat and fish ahead of time and hunt down all the ingredients that you need. Anyway, as I did the menu for June, I was struck by all the stuff that we don’t have right now (like broccoli, cauliflower, decent green beans, etc) and things that have gotten really dear. Cabbage is still a good value. But it’s hard to build your menu around cabbage day after day.

I am SO going to love living in France again and having constant access to all kinds of good food for my family. One of the things I really adore about living there is going into the village of Boege on Tuesday morning. That’s market day and the stands are full of gorgeous seasonal vegetables and fruit. Our neighbours two houses down from us have a stand and they are always sure to clue me in on what is good and hold back choice things for me. Raspberries, endive, asparagus, plums. Heavenly!

Here in Ouaga, we have mangos. At least there’s that. In our yard, we have two trees full- plenty for us and our workers. There’s even enough for the guinea pigs and the turtles, all of whom adore the fruit. The vitamin C is good for the piggies and the turtles seem to find it a tasty change from lettuce.

Speaking of animals, Cleo the Cat is definitely going back to France with us. She’ll get her blood test this weekend and then get her ID tattoo. Lucky girl!

The twins are spending this afternoon making passports for their favourite stuffed animals. Valentine is helping them make visa stamps. It's all looking very authentic.

More on the 1st Communion tomorrow…


babzee said...

Passports for their stuffed animals! That might be the MOST ADORABLE thing I've ever heard, and I'm a pro. Very glad to hear that Miss Cleo will be doing the expat cat dance. Her reactions to her new environment (keep her indoors for weeks, if not forever) should make for some coloUrful blogging!

Benoit Lescarbeau said...

That rain was quite impressive. But anything to reduce the amount of dust in the air is welcomed! I think I've heard of that village market, I'll have to go. I'll also follow your meal planning advice. We're not as numerous as your family, but we're already having logistical problems with the fridge, leftovers and required ingredients for the day's meals. I don't know why, I expected the cooks to know where to buy their ingredients and taxi drivers to know how to get around the city!

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

sounds like you can't wait to get to France...
Good luck "pour la suite de vos aventures"..:)