Sunday, 23 January 2011

Now with added mango

Hurray, mangoes are back! Delighted to see them - when I was first here they were an essential part of my diet, every day. In their absence I have had to make do with other fruit - not that much of a hardship, we have had, in succession, papayas, pineapples, oranges, some delicious water melons and now passion fruit - my kitchen is full of the wonderful aroma of passion fruit. The return of the mango is a sobering reminder of how quickly my year here is passing by (other reminders include how frequently I seem to be opening another pack of anti-Malaria tablets...)

By UK standards, pretty much all the fruit and veg is cheap, and it is usually delicious, though there are occasional exceptions - some melons definitely not worth the effort for example. But the prices do fluctuate and are closely monitored by the many here who live on extremely tight budgets. I had a sobering example of this recently - before leaving for Ghana, I gathered up the perishables in the kitchen - half a dozen potatoes, a couple of peppers, and a carrot or two - and offered them to an impecunious Burkinabe friend (a single mother with 2 school age kids) to use as she saw fit. She was delighted, and said something along the lines of - lovely, we can't usually afford potatoes. Their main staples are rice and To, a glutinous paste made from maize or millet, with a sauce made from whatever is available. I can eat To, but I can't say I have developed a passion for it - the sauces are sometimes good, but when, as often, made with dried Okra, the sauce can also be a bit glutinous - slimy really - and I am less keen on that.

So I felt both pleased and chastened. Fruit and veg needs to be bought little and often - things ripen and go off very quickly (combination of heat and lack of chemicals in them I think). I am careful to waste or throw away as little as possible in a place where people often go hungry. Now I am off to market to buy a few veg for the next couple of days - and will try not to over-shop!


  1. Hi, Helen,
    I stayed up most of the night reading almost all of your posts! I am an African American living in Los Angeles, CA. I was in Ouga last year for FESPACO and fell in love with the people. Unable to return as of yet, I was longing to hear/see anything about Burkina Faso. I love your blog. The stories are so descriptive and really captures the ups/downs & in betweens of what it's really like. I also love the pics. You seem to really have a heart for the people and understand how to not just adapt to the circumstances but to fit in. I wish you well in your journey.

  2. Thank you! Hope you carry on enjoying the blog!