Friday, April 10, 2009


Before this week, I didn't know what garri was. During exam week, a few Primary 1 students incorrectly answered that goats eat garri, not grass. So the extent of my knowledge of garri was that it is not eaten by goats. However this week I have been thoroughly introduced to garri and how it is produced.

Garri is ground up cassava, which is a root tuber. In our compound we grow cassava and this week the Sisters harvested it. I missed out on opportunity to dig up the cassava but I helped out with everything else. The cassava has to be harvested after the rains start and there is a short window before it starts to go bad, which is why we did all of this work during an already hectic Holy Week. So for two days we peeled cassava. I find it funny that regardless of how often I cook, the nuns are still hesitant to give me a knife. If I stopped to examine a blister (we peeled a lot of cassava) they would assume I had cut myself.

This morning we washed the peeled cassava and packed it into huge sacks. We kept a little cassava to make tapioca but most of it was made into garri. The bus driver agreed to take the seven bags of cassava, the three nuns, and I to the garri mill. The cassava is ground up, then mixed with palm oil to give it a slightly different taste but mostly just a yellow color. After it dries out, the ground cassava is sifted to remove the larger particles and is then roasted over a fire. I helped mix in the orange palm oil and it sort of reminded me of using Play Dough. The oil also turned my skin orange and my hands looked they belonged to an Oompa Loompa. Fortunately, it came off after a good scrubbing at home. After two hours at the mill, we grounded, mixed, and bagged all of our garri. Monday it will be cooked and ready for us to pick up. Then we can mix the starchy powder with water and eat garri till our hearts are content.

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