Monday, July 17, 2006


Baba’s, Good Friday.
Ousman , the cook at Baba’s just came to speak to me. He showed me a little book with European recipes such as 'Crepes Suzette, Saumon Fume en Galettes', etc. We started talking about cooking- he is clearly a dedicated foodie and a chef with some ambitions but lacking in certain ingredients and tools. Yet again I wished I were Cressida (or Jeremiah for that matter). We started talking jams and jellies, one culinary branch I have a little experience in, having made both medlar and crab-apple jelly at Vikram’s in Salisbury a lovely weekend an autumn ago, to the accompaniment of Rustem’s Rachmaninov emanating from the grand piano. The setting for my second jam-making will be equally memorable, albeit very different. This afternoon I am going to download some mango recipes which we will try in Ousman’s kitchen at Baba’s tomorrow.

Boubakar the weaver is sitting by his loom in Baba’s courtyard. He is starting his indigo blanket for me today. Boubakar is very black, tall, gentle and modest. A 'Peul Griot'- a Fulani from the storyteller’s rank of his tribe. The 'Griots' can have any profession but are always enlisted to tell the ancients legends and stories which form the mythology and the history of the tribe during family ceremonies such as weddings, traditionally lavish week-long affairs among the Fulani. There is a great kindness and something of the ingenu about Boubakar the weaver. He says he thinks he is about forty years old. He is married but his only child- a baby daughter- died last year. His wife is pregnant again and about to give birth. I sat with him yesterday and watched him preparing the indigo-dyed cotton warp. He was asking me questions about my life: ‘Did I have any children? ‘Was I married?’ When I replied in the negative to both questions he looked aghast. ‘But why?’ I explained that I had been married but had lived the last ten years alone. ‘But don’t you love someone at least?’ I explained that I had loved somebody not long ago, but that it was over. ‘But why?’ I explained that he didn’t love me. Boubakar’s reaction was breathtaking in its spontaneity and its kindness: 'Mais comment il pouvait ne pas t’aimer! Toi qui est si gentille et si belle!' Posted by Picasa


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