19 May 2010

Cooking Class

Welcome to your first session of Christine’s Village Cooking School! Tonight, we’re going to work on dinner. The first step should have been done this morning, when you checked your beans for rocks and set them to soak. What’s that? You didn’t check them? Oh, well, don’t worry—I only found eight in my batch this morning. I’m sure you can eat around them.

Around 4:30, it’s time to light your propane stove and start cooking the beans. Add a little salt first for taste. You might also want to start your tortillas, which need to rest for 40 minute before you can roll them out. Take a moment to sweep the floor to collect up any food that might have fallen—cockroaches like beans and rice more than you do, after all.

Also, don’t forget to start bleaching your vegetables about 20 minutes in advance of when you need them…otherwise, you’ll find your beans overcooked, and you’ll be cooking in the dark. Bleach your onions, your shallot, garlic and a few green onions…what’s that? Your green onions went bad? And you only bought them four days ago? I sympathize. Cooking without refrigeration is quite different, isn’t it? No worries, students—you’ll get used to it.

When they finish bleaching, pull out the dull Japanese knife you bought in the market for $1 US and half-sized cutting board that was provided to you. At 5:30, go ahead and drain the water off your beans and fry them up with the veggies. Add the water back in and bring to a boil. If you use the same water, it saves having to carry more from a half-mile away and adds a nice flavor as well. Pull the rice out of the creature-proof container where you store it, and add it in. Bring to a boil, and allow all the water to boil off.

As the rice is finishing, it’s time to make your tortillas. Segment the dough into six equal pieces and roll each out as thin as you can. What’s that? You don’t have a rolling pin? Well, then you’ll need to improvise: my Nalgene seems to work fine as a rolling pin for me. Of course, you’ll need to run a hand wipe over the outside first…I know where it’s been. Fry the tortillas on a dry frying pan one at a time, rotating them to compensate for the warped, uneven heating of the pan.

At last, when it’s all finished, present your creation to your family. If they are like mine, they will be grateful, forgiving and uncomplaining, even if there’s not enough, or you burnt the onions again, or if you should have picked ten rocks out of the beans this morning, not eight.

Thanks for your prayers, everyone!


  1. Thank-you, that was FASCINATING! Also, my hat is off to you, I can barely cook anything with every modern convience known to mankind.

  2. Fascinating look at cooking in Haiti - you're such a great writer (and cook) Christine! I'll come to dinner anytime...

  3. I loved your rendition of dinner. Sounds like it is always an adventure in Pignon. It is never boring following Jesus. Enjoy your rice and beans. :-)

  4. I love this. Sounds like a fantastic dinner to me, but I am partial to rice, beans and tortillas. Especially the homemade kind.

  5. I am so impressed with your being able to produce such a good sounding meal in less than perfect conditions.