“The Peanut Butter Incident” and Other Stories

So, as you may or may not know (depending on your level of loyalty to me/my blog), I have been making attempts at normal breakfasts the last week or so. I have been making coffee (of the crappiest quality, but the package says “coffee” nonetheless), and, more recently, I have been making my own sandwiches. I bought strawberry jam in Kaolack, and this is legit jam, too. It’s made in PARIS (ooh la la) and not DAKAR (wah wah), which is where most things in this country are made. I have had jam sandwiches the last couple of days, which, let me tell you, are delicious, especially when fruit is lacking in my diet so tremendously. It wasn’t enough though. I wasn’t truly satisfied with just jam on a baguette.

So my host sister, Sophia, who is amazing, told me you can buy peanut butter in the market on Luoma days. “PEANUT BUTTER?” I retorted. “Oh my goodness there IS a God,” I said (probably in English because, when surprised/excited/freaked out, I forget about that pesky Wolof).

Luoma day is every Wednesday in Sokone. There is, of course, always a market here. My host sisters go every morning and buy veggies, fish, rice, etc. On Wednesdays though, the market is probably five times bigger. Luoma, like the circus/trade shows, has a circuit. Sokone’s Luoma is on Wednesday, while, for example, the neighboring town of Passy has its’ Luoma on Sunday. In Sokone, if you want to buy something more obscure (i.e. peanut butter, tacky African jewelry, a goat), you wait until Wednesday because you WILL find it.

Luckily, my town is located in the heart of the Peanut Basin, which is in southern Senegal, above The Gambia. My host dad (who is tiny and rides a motorcycle and is named Malamine also) grows peanuts, so I eat, at the very least, a handful of peanuts every evening, and that’s just to be polite. Before dinner, my family tries to force me to eat my weight in peanuts. I learned QUICK to take a small handful and nibble. We then eat dinner, and immediately after they bust out the peanuts YET AGAIN and attempt to force-feed me. I either kindly say I am full, or I flee in terror, feigning illness or a desperate need to go shower.

Anyways, so the Peanut Basin. I live here, so peanuts are plentiful. As a result, you can easily (I use this term loosely because NOTHING is easy here) find peanut butter in the area. Thus, Wednesday, I go to Luoma on a hunt for peanut butter. The market has slight organization (the goats are in the back), but I still walk around for about an hour looking. Of course, I am frequently accosted by people trying to sell me wooden statuary, hair extensions for African women, and children’s clothing (I wish I knew how to say “Know your audience!” in Wolof).

I finally find Peanut Butter Row, where there are probably 10 women sitting in a line selling peanut butter. In front of each of them, there is a massive bucket filled with PB, and they scoop some out and put it in a sketchy plastic bag. It cost 300 CFA, which is less than a dollar. I am pleased.

So, the night before my first breakfast of peanut butter and jelly, I can’t sleep. I am too excited (I wish I was lying, but I am not). I finally fall asleep, and I awake early the next morning. I buy my baguette from the boutique around the corner and bring it back to my room. I am making my coffee, and I put the jam on the baguette. I get out the peanut butter, which, like I said, is in a sketchy plastic bag tied at the top similar to how a water balloon is tied. I try to untie it, but I am incapable, so I get my scissors. Here, “the incident” begins.

I cut the top and immediately realize my fatal mistake. Peanut butter is quite liquidous here in Senegal, and the hole at the top of the bag is larger than expected. I am holding the bag, and I can only compare what happened to something along the lines of what it would be like to hold Mount Vesuvius in your hands as it’s erupting.

You guessed it, peanut butter starts spewing out of the top like there’s no tomorrow. I wish I could have seen my face, because it must have been priceless. I also wish I could have witnessed the incident from the perspective of the members of my host family, who surely just heard “SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!!” coming from my area of the compound.

So I leap up and grab one of the beautiful glass bowls I bought in Kaolack before installs. I throw the now-half-empty bag of peanut butter in there. I stand up and assess the damage. There is peanut butter EVERYWHERE. All over my hands, all over the straw mat I was sitting on, as well as various other places I found later. (Forgive me if this story has taken a slightly inappropriate-sounding turn.)

I start by washing my hands, which is difficult because peanut butter is a bitch to get off, especially without running water. My hands are clean(ish), and I have worked up an appetite, so I take a break and eat my breakfast. It’s good, but I can almost not enjoy it because, as I eat, I look around at the destruction this peanut butter has caused, and with the knowledge that I alone have to clean it up, it’s a little depressing.

I ended up cleaning it all (as best I could). I expect ants, which doesn’t change much because I expect bugs all the time. Anyways, so I thought the incident was funny, and definitely a learning experience. I am afraid to ever eat peanut butter here again, and I still have a lot left (I messily transferred the remaining peanut butter to a clean sandwich bag I brought from the States). I guess, much like Senegal itself, Senegalese peanut butter is something you learn how to master over time. It can’t be learned overnight.

SILVER LINING: my room now smells like peanuts.

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  1. Can i just mail you some Jiff along with your books? That was painful to read. I once got peanut butter IN MY HAIR. The horror, the horror.

    • Lindsey
    • November 13th, 2010

    ‘I wish I knew how to say “Know your audience!” in Wolof’ – v. funny. They probably think you have 2-3 kids at your age. Though that doesn’t explain the women’s hair extensions.

    PB story is funny too. I hope you tried a PB&J breakfast the next morning. When you buy a baguette every morning is it fresh? Yum!

    What is the best time of year to visit you weather-wise? e.g. not too hot, no monsoons, snakes are hibernating, etc

    • Sca-rah
    • November 15th, 2010

    My fav part is that he could not sleep the night before because of the excitement over the pb.

    Excelent question about when to visit Linds. I’m gonna need that answered j.

    I can answer the reason they try and sell him hair extensions. They feel that based on the crazy amount of hair on his neck he must be going for scary caveman and are trying to help.

    I miss you boo!! We need a chat soon. I keep saying that but for real! When is good? Email me

    • Allyson
    • November 17th, 2010

    I love your post PLUS all the comments above. I’ve had peanut butter in my hair on purpose– it’s good for getting gum out. And Lindsey’s snake comment made me laugh. But assuming we haven’t had a post of you just screaming slash you haven’t appeared and dragged me through a magic portal to Senegal screaming, I’m assuming you haven’t seen any snakes– or else you are handling it yourself (doubtful)– either way, good work!

    Ok, so why don’t you like eating your fam’s peanuts all the time? Just too much? BC peanuts are really good! Introduce them to boiled ones bc yum.

    • Emma
    • November 21st, 2010

    I was seriously cracking up at this. I am glad your adventures have not changed your sense of humor or delivery of stories. at all. i don’t have any peanut butter stories to contribute, but i discovered through random facebook creeping that sheesley jordan now goes to ucf (and apparently graduates in 2 years?). completely irrelevant, but random gossip reminds me of hangin’ on the futon at carlton arms with you and allyson so i thought i’d share 🙂 p.s. ucf and hanging out seems like it was so long ago! crazy crazy. ❤

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