Remember to catch up with my last post; Roasting and Father-Son Bonding.
To cook or be cooked by immersing in water or stock that is heated to a temperature where it starts to bubble and turn to vapor.
After roasting, the next thing I’m advised to do is to wash off the sooty head and limbs until the water I’m using stops changing color. That way the soot doesn’t taint the meat inside.
Now I’m there busy washing and he’s busy roasting, awkward silence brooding. It’s not the movies after all so it’s expected. As many of us men can attest, small talk with our fathers over menial tasks is not something we get to enjoy growing up in the African culture. There’s respect and the repressed fear of what he represents which is discipline and authority. Something I will have to step into with time. For now however, I take a jab at my 21st century shamelessness to shatter that divide.
“Why do people eat the head and the legs?”
There’s the question you were all waiting for right? Well I asked it so you’re welcome.
He laughs, amused at my innocent inquiry, beaming to enlighten my uninformed mind.
“They have a different…taste. We also want to savor the delicacy…because it is of course a delicacy of…”
His attention is drawn away by a stubborn hoof refusing to come off. I indulge him some more.
“Is it like one of those meals that are only eaten by the ‘wazee’ (Old Men)?”
He hums an agreement as his focus returns.
“But now you go everywhere and hear everyone ask for kichwa.”
I’m now taken to the conversation; intrigued. I decide to pick at the obvious distaste in his voice.
“But ideally who were the ones supposed to eat the kichwa?”
“’Ni wazee…’ (It is the old men)”
He retorts proudly straightening over me as I continue to scrub at the soot ridden goat head. He loved to educate, to instill wisdom into the eager unknowing 21st century minds of his children.
“You know after the men have given away all the bulk meat at the function and people have enjoyed the food at, suppose, my grandchild’s birthday, they will eat everything but the head. The ‘Mzee wa Boma’ (Man of the Home) will have it set aside for the other men in the neighborhood who couldn’t make it as well as those who did. The following morning, he would then invite them over to enjoy the meat, boiled to perfection until the bones literally slipped out effortlessly when pulled by hand. This way he would also ensure he would be invited to eat kichwa with his fellow men during their own celebrations. This was symbolic of finishing the goat. The function wasn’t over until the men ate and cleared the kichwa. So as the women cleared and washed the utensils, the men would enjoy and clear the ‘sufurias’ (cooking pots) of the meat.”
Interesting isn’t it? Not the misogynistic viewpoint of long ago; the process of it all. The men would slaughter the animal, the women cooked it, they and the guests would have the bulk meat, and the men would have the kichwa and the choice meats set aside for them. There was balance in it all. One day I would have my own boma and kichwa and probably teach my own partially disgusted son how to indulge in the same ‘barbaric tradition’. I smiled, appreciating the thought.
At this point, we proceeded to put the clean meat in a pressure cooker, seal and load up some more charcoal for the meat to boil to infinity…Hehe…not literally of course; just until you notice the meat wanting to separate when you try to pick it up.
Did I enjoy the meat? Of course I did. I mean I was appalled at the severed parts to begin with, who wouldn’t, but I love meat. It brings us together. Ideally, if we existed in my father’s time, about fifty years back, this would be a taboo. Women and young men sitting with the wazee to eat kichwa! The ancestors were probably rolling in their graves at the thought of the ‘barbaric insinuation’, but now, it was a celebration.
On my face wasn’t the initial scowl that distorted my face at the impeding task and the strange new thing that I was being introduced to. No! There lay a glow with sheer pride for holding the baton. Now that he had tutored me, this would never happen again. It was a once in a lifetime moment; laughter, small talk, advice and a dip into the dealings of the wazee. From now on, I would have to do it myself. Was I ready? Could I manage such great responsibility?
Did you enjoy this post? Catch up with the next one; Frying, Baking, Grilling, Sauteing and Reheating continued on Tuesday the 31st only at Dimples-Dot-Com…