Monday, February 21, 2011

Eveline, Yvette Q et la cuisine

Two volunteers were needed for kitchen duty so we (Yvette Quass, Eveline Turenne) put up our hands. It couldn’t be that hard cooking for 22 volunteers and 5 staff, right! What an experience!!

Our cook Yola is a tiny but no nonsense kind of lady who tirelessly cooks for us with the help of her daughter Andrea(15) from 6a.m. to 7-8p.m. Her other daughter Kathy(16) helps when she isn’t in summer school as it is school holidays here until mid February. Her youngest girl Evelyn(9) does a few odd chores but is usually found hanging upside down from her favorite tree or climbing the tall water tower.

Yola was kind enough to let us start at 7a.m.instead of 6. We chopped and blended fresh fruit for juice and fruit salad. Every day twice a day we peeled, chopped, diced, sliced, grated and julienned onions, carrots, celery, garlic calabasita chine and a mountain of other veggies and fruits. Some days we even re-julienned carrots. Right Yvette? When we thought we were done, Yola would bring us more. We thought our fingers would smell like garlic and onions forever!

In order to appreciate the time and work going into each meal, you have to understand the process. All fruits and veggies have to be washed with tap water, then soaked in a mix of tap water and veggie soap for 4-5 minutes, then washed several times with purified water from a 5 gallon jug which we kept hauling from another room. The small kitchen is about 5ft x 5ft, has a tiny 4 burner propane stove, a bigger 3 burner propane unit, a 1ft x 1ft sink, approximately 5ft of working counter, one storage shelf under the counter and no cupboards. Another room has 2 good sized fridge, boxes of fruits and veggies, some groceries and one small table. Shopping is done at the huge market almost daily as electricity is produced by a generator which runs from 6a.m. to 10p.m. sporadically. Meals are served outside by Yola and Andrea and shared by everyone in the open air. One day Yola asked us to prepare a Canadian meal so we made Chili on warm buns. The verdict: “mucho gusto”! Yippee!

Yola insists on cleanliness at all times much to our benefit as so far no one has been sick because of the food. But, OH!! The work it caused us and the enormous quantity of water we used!

Every pot, pan, dish, fork, cutting board, knife (machete is more like it) had to be scrubbed with a scouring pad, loaded with a creamed soap, inside and outside, then well rinsed several times (more water) then dried and put away. The term “dish pan hands” comes to mind.

Out of all that work, all week, we shared the most delicious meals like ham & cheese frittata, huevos rancheros, quesadilla, salads, toyo and home made fries, plantain chips, pancakes with cinnamon syrup, omelet, rice, soups and stew. WHAT AN ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE!

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