If you’ve been following, you know Cotonou is always hot, usually humid, often dusty. Since I’ve been here, there’s been one morning that could be considered pleasant, even cool. Yesterday was the second.
I was over at the Regional Security Officer’s house waiting for a ship to come in (it never did, that’s another story) when he commented it looked like it was going to rain. One of the things I’ve learned is my weather instincts are totally off in Cotonou, so I said it probably wouldn’t. Well it did. Hard. And it blew. Hard.
Well I like rain storms, and so does Tony, so we went up to his second floor screened balcony to watch the rain fall and wait for the ship to come in. And there was a cool breeze, and that unmistakable smell of ozone and moisture that signifies a good summer storm. And even after the rain started to recede, the day stayed cool and breezy, and pretty much stayed that way.
Of course, today it’s hot again.
Another regular topic are my adventures in cooking. A week or so ago, I started getting a weekly basket of vegetables from a local farm. What comes in the basket is whatever they have that week, and this week it was eggplant (not only eggplant, but it included eggplant). Eggplant parmigiana is one of my favorites, but I’d always bought it in a restaurant, not made it. I sort of knew how it was made, but looked at a few online recipes to check on my preconceptions. The first step was breadcrumbs. I took some bread that had been in the freezer for longer than I’d thought and threw it all in the oven at 300 degrees. When it became the consistency of a piece of pumice, I threw it in a bow and pounded it into crumbs with a one liter water bottle. I added some oregano, garlic, salt and pepper (and a few other things). Then I sliced up the eggplant into about half-inch slices. I set it out in a colander and sprinkled it with kosher salt to leach out some moisture. After about half an hour I rinsed and dried the pieces and prepared bowls of scrambled eggs, flour and crumbs. Each piece went into flour, then egg, then crumbs, and finally fried in oil about a minute on each side, and put on paper towels to drain.
I put some spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a Pyrex cooking pan, then a layer of friend eggplant, more sauce, cheese, oregano, salt and pepper and again until I was done. I baked it for about a half hour at about 350 degrees.
I’ll be reheating it tonight. It makes good leftovers! If you’re serving a crowd, a side of pasta is good and start with a salad.
Next post — meeting new companions and softball in the rough.