A week ago, on Thursday night, Bennett and I hosted a Bruschetta Battle up at Jason and Jenni’s house, where we cooked obscene amounts of bruschetta for ten people. All the American volunteers came, as well as the teachers of the Danish volunteers and Pia. I made the famous Picco avocado bruschetta, not forgetting Bridget’s advice as I cooked. Buttered and toasted bread, balsamic viniagrette before and after the avocados, and avocados warmed in the oven before serving. Bennett served tomato basil mozarella bruschetta with fresh basil from the garden and perfectly melted mozarella. We made three batches each, and by the end nobody (even myself) could decide which bruschetta to declare winner. We were too full for any other food, so we sat around the table laughing, talking, and appreciating the food that reminded us of home.
The next night, Pia cooked a danish dinner to serve to the kitchen staff, the teachers, and some of the volunteers. I hung out in the kitchen for the afternoon, either doing whatever Pia needed help with, playing cards with Simon (one of the cooks), or dancing around with Lauren (the 5-year-old precocious daughter of one of the cooks). We arranged two tables together in the dining hall to create a big square and sat crowded around it to eat. Pia prepared mashed potatoes, a creamy stew of carrots and peas, meatballs, and apple crumble with cream and plum jam layered on top. Beaming faces, mostly Kenyan, but representing other places as well, enjoyed Danish food and talked lightly. I don’t remember having much of a conversation that night. I think I was too content just to eat my food and observe the happiness around me.
I was on a roll of eating delicious food… and it didn’t stop there. The next day, the American volunteers traveled to the coast, and ate at the only floating restaurant in East Africa. The tables sit on a dock-like floating platform and are lit only by candles. We could barely make out the silhouettes of the hillsides across the river from us and the gentle flow of the water downstream. There were green lights strung around the base of the platform that reflected in the dark water. I ordered vegetables and mozarella backed in a clay oven, which came perfectly spiced. Our animated conversations ranged from talking about the Tea Party and other infuriating American politics to talking about the interactions between white and black people in Africa. We came back for a second night and I ordered tomato-mozarella samosas and spinach and cheese ravioli, which were delicious. Our conversation topics didn’t get quite so heavy the second night; we just enjoyed each others’ company.