Pork or Beef?
Written by: The Bridge on Sunday, June 8th, 2008
May 4th, , which was Sunday, we randomly BBQ/ed a pig. Actually management decided to get rid of all the pigs in the barn because they are costing us too much feed and they are not bringing any money back. As Palmgrove doesn’t have a consistent income now, we really can’t afford to feed them.
So, there we all were, sitting in church listening to Inno’s sermon on Freedom. What is the definition of “freedom” as a Christian, he asked us? Does it mean doing what you want? One definition he gave us is that freedom as a Christian is our ‘ability to follow Christ.’ Inno said that it’s a shame to us if someone has to ask if you are a Christian; they should see that we are one by the way we live and talk! Freedom does not mean doing what we want, when we want, how we want. Inno read from I Corinthians 10:23:24 “All things are lawful to me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well being.” The ability to know this is Freedom!
Anyhow, there we were, sitting on our superbly narrow, hard benches, and every so often along came an invigorating breeze, wafting the tantalizing smell of roasting pig meat into our appreciative nostrils! Occasionally we were distracted from the interesting sermon by this not too unwelcome scent! Gaudi and two of the boys, Emman Dan and Otto Ubong were cooking the pork over an open fire. They had gotten up around 4 or 5 to butcher the sow. Before church, which starts at 10, I had peeped in to see what they were up to; they had all the pieces cut and deboned. After church, I grabbed the camera and went back to look again. This pail contained the guts, what we would use to make wurst. I think so anyway. Don’t we use cow gut to make wurst? Well, they made pepper soup with it. They made me try a piece so I did just to say I did it. Reminding myself that I eat it when I eat our sausage at home, I tentatively chewed on a piece of the gristly guts…; well, it was ok enough, if a tad slimy. It tasted like the peppers and spices they put into the broth. Needless to say the boys liked it very much! I then took home some of the bones that were lying on the table and cooked them to make some buckwheat soup, which is always good and healthy to top it off! All you need is some eggs. That day we had supper in the dining room, eating pork which was served in a tasty tomato sauce! Though, eh ..um, rather chewy (to say the least), it was very good!! Meat is not something that you get too much of over here.
Let me tell you about our beef escapade now. Yesterday, being May 27, was Big Market. When I was just a tenderfoot here in this African land, that word struck fear into my little heart because it was a bit of an ordeal to me to go to big market. Now, being a bit used to how things are here, going there is ok, though I’m quite happy when I arrive back home. There are so many people there and all call out to me to buy their wares and food, but I’ve learned to either ignore them, poor dears, or to pretend I don’t understand them, or to just say “I don’t need fish, onions, etc.” I don’t like to shrug off all those sweet grannies, but what can I do. I can’t buy the whole market place just because my skin is white, now can I? Anyway, this big market is every 4 days, except when it falls on Sunday, then it will be Saturday. That is when everyone brings their food, animals and wares to sell. So if there is no big market, then there will be just a few people selling things, and while you can still find what you are looking for, it will be a bit more expensive. Actually, if you really need something, then big market will more likely have it than any other time. I would love to have some pictures to post of this market, but they tell me to forget it. The people won’t allow us to take pictures of it. So, sorry!
Ok, so the day before big market I got this bright idea of a “steak”. You know, to eat, a hot and sizzling beef steak. Knowing Brian hadn’t been in big market yet, I said to him, “tomorrow we will go to big market; you’ll come along, and we’ll get ourselves a red, juicy ribeye”, and I privately chuckled to myself thinking, now I’ll be the “pro” at market, and we’ll see how Brian takes it! He was game for the plan, and the next day we went to Abak with Egypt as our driver. We wound our way through the stalls to the building where they sell beef. Actually they don’t say “beef”; they say ‘cow meat.’ I had been in this building once before, and was impressed that in so hot a place with no fridges or freezers, this building was clean and smelled nice and had practically no flies! They butcher the cows early in the morning on market day, and have the pieces lying on the table, ready to cut anything the customer might desire. Here’s our problem! I had told Brian this before leaving, saying that I hope he knows his meat better than I do, because once it’s all lying there deboned and sliced, I don’t know a leg cut from a good steak, and seeing they use almost all of the cow, inside and out, you can see some pretty strange pieces that you didn’t know cows had! So we walked around the tables, admiring the interesting views. Did you know they eat the stomach of the cow? Anyway from how they explained it, that is what we think it was, a greenish, hairy, rubbery thing. So, we talked to various venders, and they all assured us that yes, yes, of course it was a tender loin or ribeye ,whenever we asked about a certain piece. And we soon got the idea that they would agree to anything if only we would buy it. Before coming, I had actually stuck a recipe book that had a sketch of a cow carcass with all the pieces labeled in my bag in the hope that they might then know what I wanted. And so there I am, white female standing in the middle of an African meat market, and I cleverly whip out my book and point to the picture. That procured more nodding heads and “yes, yeses”, and after trying this on two sellers, I stuck it back in my bag. We did finally find the chunk of meat that at home we would cut rib eyes out of, but since they don’t exactly have a band saw to make nice cuts, we ended out with a slab of meat that was cut along instead of across. Picture the ribs of a cow, now imagine cutting a square piece of meat along that rib. They use machetes for everything and that doesn’t really cut the bone; it would, but it would make a mess of the meat. Anyway, back home we threw our ‘steak’ on the pan, no fire, and chewed expectantly. And chewed and chewed some more! I don’t know why it was so tough; maybe it needed aging? I don’t trust letting meat sit for a day in this weather, so that is out of the picture. Anyway, we got a bit of protein that day!