Cooking on Tiwi Beach
Turning off the tar and onto the dirt road leading to the Sand Island Beach Cottages, I notice a tiny roadside stand with some of the most enormous vegetables I've ever seen. My hosts tell me that there is no restaurant but I can cook my own food or hire a cook since the cottages contain fully stocked kitchens. Well, not fully stocked with food processors, microwaves, or other kitchen gadgets that I know how to work with. Most of the items require muscle power rather than electrical power and I don't know what they are for--graters, wooden utensils, a low stool f(or grating coconut), a woven mat (for squeezing the coconut), among other implements. I'm also not sure how to shop. I can purchase the vegetables at the stand, but I need to ask the men by the beach to catch me something. I hire a cook. She pushes me to the water's edge and asks the men what they are likely to catch. Do I like shrimp? Flounder? It all sounds good. My cook and I decide on a menu and a time to meet for my first cooking lesson. She brings spices and offers me another lime from her bag--clearly, I have not bought enough. I learn how to grate and squeeze the coconut for the rice, how make a vegetable curry, and how to fry the fish. It's delicious. I sit on my porch and write down the recipes (six US carrots equals one Kenyan carrot, etc.). Later, I will purchase the spices to bring home and cook a souvenir meal for my friends back home. We'll eat it by candlelight so they can have the full experience.
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