Behold the evil eggplant

This was my gift for buying a bunch of fruit and vegetables at the market.  It's normal to get a little gift when you buy stuff at the market here in mmmBELLYmay Land.  If they don't give you one, you ask for it, that's how market shopping works.

My first encounter with this veggie was in a stew in Mali.  I was eating with a bunch of other Americans who all said "Evil eggplant!" when the bowl came out.  I had never seen such a thing before, but they wouldn't tell me what was evil about it, just that it was evil.  It was practically a dare.  How can a vegetable be evil?  So I tasted it.  Bitter.  Icky.  Couldn't swallow it.  Definitely evil.

Back to the gift thing.  A friend of mine was in the capital where he bought months and months worth of supplies at the grocery store that caters to Americans and other such expats.  Pricey place, but there are just some things that make it a lot easier to live here.  I saw a box of Ritz crackers there for 9985 francs cfa once.  Go here to do your math homework and be shocked with me that that's about $20.  I did not need any Ritz crackers, but don't ask me about the lengths I'll go to to buy peanut butter.

So, my friend, after he gets the huge total at the register, looks at the cashier and says, "where's my gift?"   The cashier smiled and gave him a pack of gum.

Math Homework

Market goodies
Dear Mrs. D's 2nd and 3rd grade class,

Thanks very much for writing me letters and praying for me!  I'll be answering your questions in this blog in the next few weeks, because I figure that some of the people that read it want to know the same kinds of things.

For now, here's a little math homework for you! 

I was in a city a few weeks ago where I could buy lots of nice fruit and vegetables.  That's exciting for me because all I can usually find where I live is okra.  Fried okra is great, but it really shouldn't be a major part of my diet!  Here's a post about what I have to do to my produce before I can eat it.

This is what I bought, with my total price next to each item.  Your challenge is to figure out how much I paid for one of each item.  Not for the bags of spinach or green beans, though : ).

avocados: 450 francs
onions: 800 francs
green beans: 200 francs
melons: 200 francs
carrots: 500 francs
apples: 2000 francs
spinach: 200 francs
potatoes: 450 francs
grapefruit: 200 francs
cucumbers: 200 francs
eggs: 800 francs
egg carton: 100 francs

For extra credit work (and those who are curious), one dollar is roughly equal to 500 West African francs.  This is what the money looks look like (thanks for the picture, Dinah!).

Thanks again for your letters!

Miss Nora

Harvest time!

Emmanuel's corn smlIt’s harvest time in mmm-BELLY-may land!  I was happy to help out a friend who had a good corn harvest.  The road nearest his field was a 20 minute drive from his house, and I don’t know how far he had to walk to get his corn by the road, I do know that it took from 7 am to 5 pm for him to do it.  I was happy to be able to bring the corn, and a few other things, to his house.  I did it in 4 trips, didn’t want to overload the truck.

Bobbing for apples?

Apples Why are these apples floating in water? 

Why, to bleach them, of course, so that I can eat them without peeling or cooking them. 

I'm always a little nervous about this bleaching thing, though.  Have I bleached them long enough?  What about the side that's not in the bleach?  Putting a plate on top of them to make them sink, is that enough?  Have I rinsed the bleach off well enough to eat?

I tell you, eating here is a bit more complicated than going to Panera.