Apple Pie in Africa
I made apple pie in Africa. Well … it was kind of like apple pie.
See, pie requires shortening or lard to get that flaky pie crust we know and love & as best I tried I couldn’t find it here. Nor could I find ready made crust or even a ‘pie plate or tin’. But TIA, I adapted. Butter pie crust in the bottom of a large casserole dish with fresh apple filling did the trick. Even better, Brian bought some ice cream (1/2 vanilla, 1/2 chocolate being the best option available) to put on top of the warm pastry. I’m sure my grandmother would have been shaking her head and possibly even been embarassed at this poor looking attempt at pie but it was still a big success.
Dessert is kind of a foreign concept for Africans. They don’t really have any desserts and generally they’re food is not sweet. By this I mean they may say something is kind of sweet when they describe it to us and we try it and it’s very bland. Even their version of the doughnut is just fried flour dough without any sweetness other than the natural sweetness of bread. So you can imagine when they tried this dessert (which was not even as sweet as it usually is) it made quite the stir. The first reaction of every African after tasting it was to look at me with complete surprise and say “It’s Sweet!”.
Now everyone wants the recipe and it’s a sensation, especially since there is a second one sitting in the refrigerator to be baked within the next few days. I’m so glad too, it was quite the experience. Cooking in Africa has been similar to Medicine in Africa – a exercise in adaptation, ingenuity and patience.
The idea to make apple pie came up as we were playing cards with Phares, the elective Africa coordinator & Godwin, the Arusha Elective Africa Transportation contact person on the day before Thanksgiving. We were telling them all about the holiday’s history, the story of the Pilgrims and Indians, the food and preparations & the fanfare of Thanksgiving. It was then suggested that I could and should make some of the Thanksgiving delicacies the next day for everyone to try and celebrate with us.
Unfortunately when we woke up the next morning Brian & I were sick with gastroenteritis. I tried to fight my way through it and still went to the market down the road and bought the supplies that I would need for at least and apple pie and a vegetable dish as well. But by the time I got home I was vomiting so badly and spiking fevers with rigors & just over all felt so terribly that despite my best intentions I couldn’t be out of bed for more than 10 minutes at a time over the next 24 hrs or so. So apple pie didn’t happen until the following Monday afternoon when I set about trying to cobble together the thing as best I could. Luck would have it that this was Mama Lydia’s birthday! What better way to celebrate a birthday than a special treat of dessert.