24 December 2007

you gotta bleed it first.

On Saturday, to practice for our Christmas feast, Candace and I
purchased, carried home, helped kill (okay, watched), cleaned,
prepared, battered, and fried our very first chicken. Well, my first,
since she'd done it in Swaziland, but our first in Ethiopia. I
carried him home, a sight which brought great amusement to the people
of Assela. The lone white girl in town is exciting enough, but the
lone white girl carrying a live chicken by its feet (which is how the
Ethiopians do it) was almost more than they could handle.

We were fully prepared to kill him (and by we I mean Candace), but
women don't do that in Ethiopia, so the older brother of Candace's
compound family did it for us, then we de-feathered and prepared him.
Real American-style fried chicken. And let me tell you, we certainly
know how to pick a bird - he was enormous and delicious. We made some
seasoned potatoes as a side dish and has ourselves a delicious
organic, farm-raised meal. If we only could find cornmeal in this
town, we would have had ourselves a southern feast. Alas, we had
banana bread instead, which was equally delicious if a slightly
inappropriate food pairing.

Keeping with our established weekend tradition of extravagant
breakfasts, on Sunday morning we made banana pancakes and hash browns.
Not the same as Dad's waffles, but quite delicious under the
circumstances. We'd open a diner here if not for Peace Corps' "no
outside income" policy. Cinnamon buns next weekend for the Christmas
party. Thank god the entire town is situated on a steep hill and
there's no oxygen here, otherwise we'd be bulking up appallingly fast.
There's little else to do in your free time besides cook or read, and
we don't want to run out of books too quickly.

I finally have a house - I started moving in on Christmas Eve. It's
actually at the first homestay I visited, but they're partitioning the
hallway and giving me the bigger room, kitchen, and bathroom and I'll
use the back door as my private entrance while they have the front
door to the other half of the house. The main room is large enough
for a bed and couch, so it'll function as a bedroom/living room/eating
area in the spirit of the tiny studio apartment I'll one day have in a
bad neighborhood of Washington, DC. Making up for the odd common room
arrangement, the kitchen is fabulous - it even has a sink, which is a
far bigger deal than you'd imagine. It doesn't function yet, but I've
been assured that'll be fixed soon. They're leaving the cabinet in
there, so I'll have a counter and storage space. Indoor flushing
western toilet and shower too, so life is good. There's a nice corner
out back where I envision my chickens and a healthy looking section of
soil for my garden. The kitchen even has a quaint windowsill for my
herbs. The layout is a bit strange and disjointed, but the perks make
up for it and I have a lot of ideas to liven the place up. I'm
excited. Now I get to start work next week, which is even more
exciting.

Wishlist:
-Books
-The usual
-Hot cocoa mix (with marshmallows!)
-Post-Christmas baking/food sale items (frosting, cake mixes, candy,
etc - all the stuff that goes on sale after Christmas)

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