Tuesday, January 19, 2010
What's for supper? or...The care and feeding of teenage boys.
It is the same everywhere..teenagers are hungry ALL THE TIME!!! Saturday was my first full day in Kenya...and by 11 am, the house was full of kids from the Oasis group homes who all got up early to do their Saturday housekeeping chores and washing of their clothes so that they could rush over to "mom's" house. I was happy to greet them one by one as they arrived...but, soon realized that the few necessity food items purchased the afternoon before (tea, bread, butter) would not suffice to make lunch for them. So, a taxi was called and along with Martin, Johnstone, Steward and Moses..I went into town for food.
Johnstone pushes one of the 4 carts we filled up at the Gigamart.
Unlike my weekly trips to Albertson's at home where I am shopping for only myself....I buy food in bulk here. Sugar, rice, ugali and chapati flour in 20 lb. increments, cooking oil and cooking fat in the largest containers, 30 tomatoes, 50 potatoes, 30 carrots, 30 onions, 3 or 4 bunches of the small sweet Kenyan bananas that have 15 or so bananas per bunch, 20 mangos.....and more. The requested lunch item was "long rice".....which I knew meant spaghetti. Six pounds....that should be MORE than enough (ha!).
Thankfully, food is so much less expensive here ...but, still - buying in that kind of bulk adds up quickly. The shopkeepers are always happy to see me. I think I single-handedly improve the economy of Kitale when I am in town!
Then back home to the task of cooking lunch for 12 teenage boys....oh wait - now there are 18....no...more kids have arrived...."We are 22....23 including you mom."
I had to laugh that the stores here sell bottled "Ragu" spaghetti sauce which the kids love (I bet you introduced them to it Allison.)...so we purchased 4 bottles. We also made a fresh 'sauce' with onions, tomatoes, garlic, grated zucchini and grated carrot. As more kids arrived...we added more veggies. The pasta was cooked- one pound at a time in two large pots. Finally, it was all done and we started to dish it out onto 23 plates and bowls. And then the kids started coming in....1, 2, 3...10, 15..20....23...wait...more kids are entering the kitchen....when did they arrive? As it turned out there were close to 50 mouths to feed ranging in age from about 3 up to adults.
In Kenya, you feed anybody who is there and it is quite rude to not do so. So, we quickly began dividing the portions up into smaller bowls....keeping the large portions for the teenagers. In the end...there was enough....for everybody but mom that is!
Justus enjoying his 'long rice' sans sauce
As soon as that was noticed however...the boys began coming to me one by one - sharing their lunches with me...making sure that I had my share. If you know me at all - you know that I took each bite with a tear in my eye - marveling at the care these kids return right back to me.
surprise guest Wilson carrying empty plates back into the kitchen....
And then ...the clean-up! The kitchen was a disaster. But, as is our rule here at Oasis House...if you cook you don't have to clean. So, those who had been watching movies - switched places with the cooks and quickly set the kitchen back to rights. Of course, cooking and cleaning were accompanied by loud music played from my ipod on the much loved portable speakers. So, both events were interspersed with singing, dancing and fun, fun, fun!
The clean-up crew cheerfully gets ready to tackle the lunch dishes!
It had already been decided that the 4 boys who will be entering high school in a few weeks (Martin, Johnstone, Justus and Kevin) would be spending the night here. The rest of the crowd slowly dispersed home. When the last one exited the compound and the gate closed behind them....I turned to walk back into the house with my 4 teenage 'sons'...thankful that we had fed everyone and that the kitchen was nice and clean.
And just then Martin turned to me and said "So mom.....What's for supper???"