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Man make fire, women make breadcrumbs

November 13, 2013

Saturday 2nd: I was put on the spot today when asked if I knew how to make beefburgers. From scratch. For 20 people.
The project leader had arrived from Sorong having bought the entire city’s supply of mince (3kg), quietly confident that someone would be able to turn it into burgers. As those who know me well will attest, I do not cook, at least, not if I can avoid it. But at some point my son had passed on his burger recipe, so I was able to confidently confirm the ingredients required. I should have kept quiet because, of course, this turned into me actually making the burgers. Have you ever tried making a large quantity of breadcrumbs from very soft fresh bread with only a large washing up bowl and two forks? No? Well, let’s just say it takes a while. Our local cook looked on with interest and no little amusement. When I finished I told her (via our translator) that at home I had a machine for this task. “Ahhh, blender.” she replied, nodding, as if she had one at home, too. No wonder she had been watching with such amusement.
While I was preparing the burgers, the men had been busy with the traditional male task of making fire. This was approached with traditional male engineering rigour and much debate over the size and amount of wood to use. As a result there were now sufficient glowing embers for cooking to commence. There was a brief hiatus while they worked out how to persuade the tightly rolled chicken wire to stay flat enough to cook on. Personally, I’d have done that before the fire was quite so hot, but then the whole thing would have been much less amusing to watch. Finally everything was ready and we cooked our burgers and served them with the traditional salad, home made relish and fries. Sitting on the sand, under the starriest sky imaginable, with a burger in one hand and a can of Bintang in the other, this was the best meal of the trip so far.

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