The rains started a couple of weeks ago. Not a very good start at that. This time last year the quarry pits next to the college were flooded; people were bringing their livestock to drink and filling Jerry Cans. This year there is just a little mud at the bottom.
But it did rain. A bit. And after a few days of that dampness, there was something oddly tan coloured all over the termite mound next to my house. My friend Jackson (VSO volunteer from Uganda who lives down the road) came by and told me it was spores of mushrooms. Sure enough, three days later, the termite mound was covered in what looked like small white flowers (small white flat toped mushrooms with split caps that look like petals). Jackson harvested them!
He brought them back to my house yesterday. He’d sun-dried them on the roof of his house and wanted to share a Ugandan dish with me. We went to Tala market, it was market day and everything was very busy. We found a Mama in the covered section who was selling beans and flour. He bought a large bag of peanuts… and took them to the posho mill.
The Posho Mill is where maize gets ground into maize flour for making Ugali (discussed earlier on this blog). He convinced the woman to toss his nuts into the machine 😮 After a few minutes of the machine making its normal deafening noise, nothing came out. After a while longer nothing much continued to come out and the woman shook it a bit. We left with a small bag of what looked mostly like maize meal but tasted slightly of peanuts, in a bag about a quarter the size of his bag of peanuts.
We were up the road buying beans when Jackson told me that the woman in the Posho Mill wanted us to go back.
“How do you konw that?”
“They sent a kid to tell me”, he answered, and then, “how did they know where to find us?”
I looked at him to see if he was serious.
“It’s not hard to find me here”
We returned to the Posho Mill to find the grinding machine stopped and in pieces. The woman and a man were peering into it. The man was putting his hands inside, taking out handfulls of slightly brown powder and putting it into a bag. His ground nuts had been located.
Back at my place he mixed the peanut paste with water and the mushrooms and salt. Just that! We ate it with Matoke: green banannas boiled and mashed. wonderful!
I’m planning to spend Xmas in Uganda, visiting Jackson’s home. If the food is anything like this soup (he tells me you can substitute dried fish if you dont have mushrooms and it tastes even better) I’m in for a happy season. When that’s all done, my plan takes me to Lamu on the Kenyan coast for new year and then back to Tala for the last month.