Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day 9--Supper for 325

It is so hard to put into words what really went on today. But Ron and I will try. Today the menfolk started out the morning by heading to the market to buy fresh veggies for our chicken fajita feast. As before, we were the circus at the circus. The farmer's market opened about 10:30 am and is not comparable by anything we've seen in the U.S. They weigh the produce by a handheld scale and the produce is somewhat different than what we've got. The eggplants are green, the garlic is much smaller, etc. As we began to purchase our items, a crowd began to form. I guess you could say we kinda started a riot! We had to be sent back to the car so the crowds would disperse. Not many white boys at this market! We also bought water in 30lb bags. About 500 lbs worth. They came in a nylon bag and inside they had individual bags of water, kinda like an i.v. bag. We've never seen anything like that--they take the bag and tear off a corner and drink from it! Guess it is their version of the plastic bottle.

When we got back to our cooking site, and began to layout our menu items, we discovered that they had bought only one gallon can of pinto beans for our estimated 300 partakers. They don't do pinto beans here and weren't sure what we were going to do with it. Mark headed off with Max and Shireesh to another store to buy some dried beans. The closest thing we could find to pinto beans were Indian "rajma" beans, but they worked. We threw in some bacon , garlic, spices and cilantro and they turned out really great!

Around 1:30 pm, our dinner arrived on a motorcycle. 15 live fine specimens of the poultry variety. We were expecting around 150. Eventually we were told that we had received the honor of "killing" these 15 and thank God, they had already taken care of the rest. The chickens were tied together in three bunches of 5. They laid them on the ground for us to take care of. They stood back to watch us city folk make fools of ourselves. Finally, we begged for some direction. None of us had done this before. Then Mannee showed us the proper technique of chicken killing. He slid the knife cleanly across their neck and then with two or three quick strokes, the head came clean off. The head and eyes moved a little and then went lifeless. Also the blood began to squirt out of the neck as they flapped and flapped until finally they moved no more. Now it was our turn. Disturbingly Brian Nistler willingly grabbed the knife and went to work with no hesitation and I swear we could see blood lust in his eyes. He seemed to enjoy it as he took care of all but the last two. Then they told me (Mark) it was my turn. I have to admit, I don't think I've ever killed anything beyond an insect or two. If you know me at all, you know I am an animal lover. My biggest mistake; I never should have looked them in the eye. With one glance, I could see into their souls...they looked at me with sadness, begging for mercy, knowing their fate. I couldn't do it. But I knew I had too and yes, I bowed to the pressure of the moment...peer pressure...of Alan videoing and everyone saying "come on, you can do it!" Yes, I admit, I am weak! So I covered my eyes and slit the chicken's neck. And then the next. And now I will live with the guilt of being a "chicken killer" for the rest of my life. I snuffed out their lives so that I could eat a fajita or two later than night. I must confess, I would rather my chicken come in the nugget or tender form than live and in person. I don't think I will ever be able to look at a live chicken again without feeling like they know what I have done to their avian Indian cousin! I should now walk around with the scarlet letters CK on my chest! But I won't. I will hide my blood letting from all others...except those that read the blog :)!

So Mark cooked the beans, Larry Schaffer cooked the Spanish rice, and Ron sauteed the chicken fajitas, onions and green peppers. Alan, Brian, Mannee, Saboo, and Shireesh chopped and diced, tended the fires that we cooked over and did whatever we needed. It truly was a team effort to cook fajitas for that many people. But we desire to bring something Texan to them. What better than a Tex-Mex meal. We also had a team of three ladies and three other men that made the 600 tortillas and grilled them over an open fire. They were amazing. And it took them most of the afternoon. I will never complain about Hillside's kitchen again! I truly missed my luxurious work space. The warming oven, the gas cook tops at counter height. It was fun and challenging, but cooking facility was outside and the cooking utensils were primitive. The cast iron ladle/spoon/stirrer that we used weighed at least 15 lbs each. The cast iron wok and pans were absolutely huge and heavy and the fires were low to the ground. Our backs were feeling it by the end of the night.

The last thing we did was serve the women the meal. They weren't use to men serving them. In this culture it is usually reversed. We fixed their plates and handed it to them. They smiled but weren't sure what to do. They had never eaten a "taco" before. We showed them how, but most just ate them with their fingers as they do most meals here. It must have been good, because most came back for seconds and some even for thirds. Ron and I noticed that the smaller the lady, the more trips through the line they made! We enjoyed our time getting to serve them and they took time during their campfire to give us a round of applause. Then they asked what we were cooking tomorrow!?!? Tomorrow is goat, and I know I can't and won't kill and cook a goat. I'll eat it, but not if I have to do the slaughtering of it! Maybe we will leave that to out Amarillo for the chicken mass murderer Brian Nistler! :)

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