Friday, February 28, 2014

Lunch at NJ

I'm a posting machine this week. :) With fewer duties this year, I have extra time on my hands. This is a series of photos I took to try and use for one of my MatadorU photography assignments. 

Money was found to build a new kitchen. Yay! Our new building has four solid, plastered walls, a tin roof, and unglazed windows for ventilation. Prep and cleanup is still an outdoor affair. The most commonly prepared meals are pap (corn meal porridge) and stewed chicken feet, pap and pilchards (canned sardines in tomato sauce), samp (kind of like hominy) and beans, and butternut. Sometimes we get roasted mealies -- roasted ears of field corn. In season, large cases of oranges will appear at school and get doled out. At other times, bananas will arrive.

When the lunch ladies have finished preparing the day's meal, they portion it into large, repurposed plastic buckets and place these at intervals along the walkways in front of the school's classrooms. It's served at 10AM and the learners, who are responsible for providing their own containers, crowd around the buckets and serve themselves. Sometimes several learners share a meal from one large tupperware. Silverware is generally not necessary. You pinch off a piece of pap, and dip it or use it to scoop the other dishes.


Preparing vegetables. The prepped food can be passed into the kitchen where the cooking is done. Off camera to the left is the washing station. Plastic buckets used for serving the food are piled high on the counter.
Cooking the food. Cooking is done over an open fire in large, three legged pots called galazas. Propped against the window, you can see the giant paddle used for stirring pap.
Tending the pots. From experience, I can say that stirring the stiff pap with a large wooden paddle is hard work!
Cleaning station. Behind, you can see the large pile of collected brush and firewood used to fuel the cooking fires.
Learners help themselves to pap, the staple food of this region. Pap accompanies almost every meal. Other common starches are samp, and sometimes, rice.
Pap is the foundation of any meal it's served at. A large portion of pap is served with a smaller amount of a protein or side dish, such as pilchards or tomato gravy.

So that's lunch. The English educator in my office, Mr. Nyambi, tells me there is no siSwati word for lunch, but it's kufihlula in Shangaan. Unless you're eating between 13:00 and 15:00 hours, then it's mpimavayeni.

If you're still hungry, neighborhood ladies come to the school to sell their homemade sweets and packets of extruded corn snacks that are kind of like Cheetos. My favorite sweet is emaguina or ema-fatties. These are deep fried sweet dough balls, and they're delicious. Also popular are plastic baggies filled with shaved ice and fruit juice. Kind of like a popsicle in a bag. Ema-chips (french fries) are usually available, too, greasy and delicious. I don't eat these very often!


Want to try your hand at pap? Here's a recipe:


Ingredients
2 cups (500ml) water
1/2 tsp (2,5ml) salt
1 cup (250ml) maize meal (or polenta)
1 Tbls (15ml) butter

Method
* Put the water and salt in a saucepan. Bring to the boil.
* Turn to a low heat once boiling and immediately add in the butter and the maize meal (or polenta). Don't wait for the water to cool. Mix to combine.
* Adjust with extra water or maize meal to the consistency of your liking. I like it the same consistency as mashed potato. 
* Leave to cook covered on a low heat for about 30 minutes.
* Serve hot.

See more at: Fabulous Food Recipes

- Elizabeth

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