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Eat, Cook, Love

August 1, 2011

WONDERFUL weekend in Monrovia! St. Theresa’s feels like an absolute mansion. Current! “Fast” internet! Running water! A bed raised off the floor!

I feasted. Soft serve twist ice cream cone. Pizza and Diet Pepsi. Candy bars and Combos. BRUNCH on Sunday. At least four cups of brewed coffee (no instant packets), pancakes, fruit, vegetables (broccoli?!), quiche, tarts, cake. We ate for hours. No, really, we ate for hours. At least two, and some people stayed longer. I was in physical pain from too much food and it felt amazing. Gluttony, I never thought we’d meet again. It was $15US, but I’ll do it again every time I’m in town.

We chartered a cab home and Matt and I spoke Mano with the driver. I’m feeling at home here. I’m loving Mama Liberia. Four of us in the back felt so normal. You can get used to anything with time.

Princess and David helped me make coconut candy while I blasted American music and we danced next to the coal pot. I was on cloud nine as I slipped into my new sea-foam green lapa suit and walked into the living room for approval. Princess gasped and put her hand to her mouth. Everyone clucked and cooed. I wanted to see! I positioned my camera on the window ledge and ran across the room to beat the timer. I turned just in time to see it crash to the cement floor.

It’s broken. I was devastated. Just when I felt Titanically unsinkable, I hit a ‘burg below the surface. “Can I please get a different kind of break?” I sobbed.

Life here is often at the extremes as your best days fade seamlessly into your worst days.

When I got home from Monrovia yesterday the kids dropped their chores and ran to me, screaming. “Leelia! Leelia! We missed you sooo much,” they said as we hugged. I have rarely felt so completely loved and accepted.

COCONUT CANDY

Liberian Market
2-3 small to medium coconuts ($25-35LD each)
1 medium can sugar ($40-50LD worth)
Small piece ginger

America
3 cups shredded coconut (about a bag)
1.5-2 cups sugar
Small piece ginger

Check that the coconuts are not cracked and shake them to make sure they are not spoiled (it you feel anything sloshing around besides the water it’s probably bad). Break the coconuts open. You don’t need the coconut water for anything so you can drink it or set it aside. Wash the flesh in clean water. Carefully peel the brown skin off with a knife and grate it into a clean bowl (this takes about an hour). If using ginger, wash, peel, grate, and add it now. Mix thoroughly.

Pour the sugar into a clean dry pot and heat until melted, using a cooking spoon to break up any chunks that form. Add the coconut and stir to coat. Keep it on the heat and stir until is starts to dry and get sticky.

Spoon out a small amount and roll it into a ball or press it flat like benne seed candy. Leave in a clean pan to cool.

Makes 25-35 small candies. Takes 2-3 hours over a coal pot in Liberia.

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