Because there is a shortage of information on Benin, I had to dig really deep to find some fun facts. In my search I happened upon a lovely blog by a young woman named Jen. Jen is an American who spent 2 years in Benin for the Peace Corps. I enjoyed reading through her experiences (although I am sad to report that they end mid-trip, suddenly and without explanation).
First, I want to share a picture I found of her cooking class in Benin. You will see the lengths Jen and the other students are going to to get the food mashed and ready to eat. Makes you appreciate blenders, food processors, immersion blenders, and power gadgets in general. AND it makes me not feel so bad for having to peel 1,000,000 beans the other day.
Upon reading some more of Jen’s blog, I learned that food service is typically very slow (in this entry she was visiting an area called Grand Po Po). In fact, some restaurants take 1-2 hours to prepare the food. Why, you ask? Simple. They go out and buy the ingredients after you order your meal. This is due to general lack of refrigeration. In another entry she describes the typical restaurant food where she was:
…restaurants here are WAY different, there isn’t much variety…usually it’s rice, with either beans, fish, or hard boiled eggs, and a sautéed tomato, piment (hot peppers), and onion sauce
One particularly entertaining entry is about the number of people in the home she is staying in:
The house is SO CROWDED. I don’t know where everyone is sleeping! The [Peace Corps] requires that Stagiaires have their own room…thankfully. Here is a briefing of who is in the house: Grandpa, Maman, Papa, Aunt (Tante), Vince (brother), Spero (brother), Sonja (sister), Judith (cousin), Odilo (cousin), Charles (cousin), Gladis (cousin), Antoinette (cook), and myself…..13 people in a 4 bedroom house-and one of those rooms is mine. Wow.