Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Determination

We were invited to attend Thanksgiving potluck at one of the homes here in Moshi.  The Western community is tight and supportive of each other, and the get-togethers are always fun. I was given the task to bring green bean casserole and yams to this event, and I accepted the challenge! Green beans are not hard to get here - we made a trip to the outdoor market in town and got a huge bag (3 kg) of fresh green beans for 3000 shillings, about $2. But the yams...they were a different story. I was determined that our Thanksgiving feast would have candied yams, it's just the perfect food. I decided on yams with a brown sugar crumble topping despite the fact that there's no brown sugar here either. I was going to make it work!
The market stall with the 'yams'
Clean purple yams ready to bake
So we trekked to the market again, on a mission to find yams. I had heard the yams here weren't the yams I would be used to. They only have taro root here, or a purple-skinned yam with white flesh.  I went for the latter, and at the market, an old Tanzanian woman assured me I had got the right thing. She even broke it open, took a bite herself, then handed it to me to try. I just smiled and handed it to Melissa to taste. She politely took a tiny bite.  We bartered for a minute, and I ended up buying 20 yams for 9000 shillings (yikes! that's $6!).

And it was a Thanksgiving miracle - at another shop here, I found a tiny bag of brown sugar American-style for 4500 TSH ($3). I snatched it up. I roasted the sweet potatoes and cut them open hopefully. The taste was very sweet, but the texture was just like a regular potato - starchy and a bit crumbly. The yams that I'm used to at home are a bit creamier and smoother - so I was a little bit worried.  I think they are delicacies here though.  Our house mama Fridah came into the kitchen, and Holly asked her in Swahili "Oh do you like sweet potatoes?" and Fridah eagerly nodded, took a hot one off the pan and bit into it immediately. We were all taken aback! Anyway, we mashed them all up, added the sugar, eggs, milk, and it looked...terrible. Nothing was incorporated very well and it was much soupier than I expected.  These were supposed to be yams for nearly 30 people - so I was getting a tad worried. Nevertheless, we poured it in, put a brown sugar topping on top, and baked it. 

I am happy to report that it turned out absolutely fine - a little dense I think due to the texture of the potatoes, but the taste was great!  Such relief as I brought them over to the potluck and enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast!
The final product - yum!!
All mashed and mixed - skepticism setting in!

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