1. Pate (pronounced pot)
One of the staple foods of the south of Benin. Its made of corn meal and water... you (are supposed to) eat it with your hands... and dip it in sauce.
To make pate, boil 2 cups of water. Separately mix together 1 1/2 cups corn meal and 1 1/2 cups (additional) water. Once the water is boiling add the cornmeal mixture and let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add an additional 1 1/2 cups cornmeal, stir vigorously (really) until really thick this should take another 5-10 minutes. Serve it with sauce.
Its basically flavorless corn glop and they eat it with everything. Yum. So I know I am adjusting to living here when the other night, as I ate my corn glob with “tomato” sauce, I thought to myself, “Wow this tastes like mashed potatoes!!” But apparently this isn't a normal adjustment, so maybe I just forget what mashed potatoes taste like.
2. Everything Can Wait
Yesterday I saw a birthday cake with candles. Which isn't a normal occurrence here and I quickly discovered why.
I am not sure if I have emphasized this but in Benin everything takes at least ten times longer than it should, and no one is ever actually focused on the task at hand. Its just a fact of life here.
So when the birthday candles were lit... the lighter of the candles then promptly answered her phone. People continued with their small party tasks (refilling drinks, clearing plates, wandering...) and by the time everyone finally was assembled to sing happy birthday... the candles had melted down all the way to the cake. I think it was the sense of urgency that finally brought everyone together. It was actually pretty amazing to watch... and how efficient, no wasted candle!
Love and Kisses