On Saturday, we took a break from our normal cooking schedule and had our first Cultural Cooking Day. Today we learned how to cook various staples from different Namibian tribes and were able to sample many of them (Next cooking day will focus on American foods).
We got there at our usual time of 7:30am to set up the stations. Each language group either had their own or combined together based on region. KKG had our own setup. We moved the tables and hauled wood over to our little station and I made the cooing fire! Ok, so I lit a piece of paper on fire with a match and threw it underneath the pile of wood but still, I made a fire.
While setup was going on, we had a few live animals to prepare. There were two goats and three chickens. I participated in preparing the chickens meaning I held one by the wings and legs while another trainee cut its head off. No, it wasn’t because I was malicious; it was an experience I wanted to try. And also, it was delicious. I watched the goat slaughter, but kept my distance and did not participate.
The KKG group prepared donkey meat (we got this meat frozen so no, we did not kill a donkey), goat with potatoes and dough balls (sort of the consistency of dumplings), fat cakes, and pap (essentially grits and one of my new favorite foods here since it can be eaten with everything).
Cooking took several hours and it was HOT outside. But, there were two DJs that kept the party going with really fun music and everyone wandered around to the different stations, watching all of the different cooking techniques and sampling a few dishes.
Before we all feasted, each language/regional group went up on stage to perform a song from that culture. Our song was about a child that was bitten by a snake so its mother was pleading with a man to help. We even did a little dance. Our PC Namibia country director, Kevin, then called all of the volunteers up on stage to perform one of our favorite songs to sing. We sing it all the time and all of the host families loved it.
I can’t lie and say that I enjoyed everything I ate and there were a few dishes that I avoided entirely, including the goat intestines. I am trying to be as adventurous as I can but sometimes I need to keep the recent…fragility of my stomach in mind. However, I really enjoyed the donkey! It tastes just like roast beef.
It is so incredible that there are so many unique and diverse cultures in a country that has only a little over two million people. Walking around, I heard a myriad of languages and dialects and saw several different traditional styles of dress. It was amazing that we could all come together to celebrate the wonderful program that is the Peace Corps and get to participate in such genuine cultural exchange!