Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This is not, sadly, the list of treat suggestions for a True Blood theme party. No, rather, it is a sign of how completely my life has changed in the past year.
Yesterday it began innocently enough, chatting with the teacher in the preschool about how our little nutrition project was going. She mentioned that this Friday there is a recipe contest and that she wanted my help thinking of a super nutritious balanced plate. We brainstormed and shortly had a little number that combined high contents of iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A. However, the contest doesn´t stop there. Each school gets to submit two items-- and that´s where I got ahead of myself.
Months ago, during training, we visited a "wawa wasi," a state supported communal day care center, where they cook and serve highly nutritious meals. This model wawa wasi introduced us to some of their creative menu items, often using cheap but highly nutritious ingredients in novel ways. One of the items were chocolate donuts, which we learned were fortified with blood. If a few peruvian women can do it, why not me?
Conveniently, this morning I went down to our provincial capital, with the president and secretary of the Huambo Musho development committee, to see how support for our latrines project is going (answer: más o menos). After a few hours of shuffling from bureaucrat to bureaucrat, we split up, my buddies back to Musho, and me, to look for blood. I tried the meat section of the market without luck, and then they directed me towards the municipal "camal," a new word for me, a few blocks away.
This mysterious camal is no less than the butchering spot for all the animals that enter in the town market. I entered by a beautiful, sunflower lined drive, and was greeted (totally unexpectedly), but a friendly aquinatance, my nurse´s sister. Then we both went into the garage type structure in back to see dozens of hanging, dead animals, and several butcherings in process. While she filled my two soda bottles with fresh sheep´s blood (it could have been stolen from the Buffy set it was so vibrantly red), I did my best to close off my senses and not faint or say anything stupid. It was hard to make small talk.
I walked out with a liter of blood and a sense of the absurd (let´s review: I´m a vegetarian. I was semi-vegan for a while. I am from a world where meat is sold in pristine super markets, not killed before your eyes) This absurdity increased when I fell on my face walking out of the camal, in front of a couple on a motorcycle.
Back in Musho, I got cooking. I boiled my blood, let it dry out, ground it up, and used it in two surprisingly tasty treats: chocolate cookies and pancakes. Seriously, mixing the batter I felt slightly ill, but a good cook cannot go without trying her products. It was simple, chocolaty goodness. My host family and 1/2 my youth group tried them and approved. And they are very high in iron, low in fat and ready for the preschoolers to win a contest with. Myself, I hope I never have to cook with blood after this week, though.
RECIPE: CARNIVOROUS CHOCOLATE COOKIES
1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup cooked, ground blood
Mix sugar, oil, milk and egg.
Sift dry ingredients. Add to wet and combine. Mix in blood.
Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet, cook for 10 minutes at 350, or so.
Serve to malnourished, anemic children, pregnant women who have worked in the fields all day, etc.