DAY 116: Making a Sudanese feast

25 Dec

EVERY Boxing Day for the last four years, the East African Community of Castlemaine have put on a thank you feast for the local people who have helped them with things like English and maths tutoring, computer skills and driving lessons. This year’s event marks a particularly pertinent time, as the Southern Sudanese independence referendum is in 11 days time, affecting everyone preparing for the gathering in the Campbells Creek Community Centre tomorrow.

This evening, I head down to the council office kitchens to help some Sudanese women prepare the food.

Arob pulls up a chair for me and shows me how to dice the potatoes just so, for a mincemeat and vegetable dish. I’m thankful she’s got the job of peeling the potatoes so that I don’t show myself up… but then she examines my dicing technique critically and says, “We will try you with something else.”

Now I’ve got a box of okra to work through, which is way easier, particularly when Arob urges me to work at a more leisurely pace. “Last year we were still doing this at five the next morning,” she says, handing me a cup of tea and a biscuit.

We have a chat about the merits of Castlemaine over Melbourne and Arob’s husband pops in with some more food. Some pleasantries are exchanged, probably: “This girl’s nice enough, but she can’t even cut a potato.”

Keeper? Yes.

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