Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kapana, Fat Cakes, and a Cool Drink

As we approach the open market, the smell of kapana pungent, my mouth begins to water. The bodies of raw cattle are hanging about, flies buzzing and moving from stand to stand. Some of the meat is in the process of being prepared to be grilled – sliced into smaller pieces with a machete. We walk up to our favorite stand owner, who already has some of the kapana grilled and ready to eat. We look in his pot of meat, and pick out our favorite pieces. We negotiate a price and quantity, and he throws it back on the grill to warm up. When it is nice and hot, he brings it back out and slices it into bite-sized chunks of deliciousness.

He prepares our plate – a cheap metal saucer – and haphazardly throws the tasty seasoning on our plate of kapana. He adds the sauce – chopped tomatoes, onions, chili and spices. Then, it is time to grab some fat cakes. They are as fatty as their name foreshadows – a round, doughy, fried combination of sunflower oil, yeast, and flour. Fat cakes are quite the fitting name for the delectable treats that are found at every open market, and are the perfect compliment to the kapana.

We grab our kapana and fat cakes, and head over to the Meme who sells cool drinks. A two liter Coca-Cola to share will complete the trifecta – kapana, fat cakes, and Coca-Cola.

We sit down in the heat of the Namibian afternoon to enjoy our meal. As they say, “In Africa, we share”, and one plate is shared by many. The key to the best bite is to grab a piece of kapana to your liking, tear off a chunk of the fat cake, and soak up some sauce and tomatoes and onions. This savory bite can hardly be described in words – a flavorful blend of seasoning, tender meat, and fresh vegetables. The zesty taste makes my mouth burn with delight, and I’m pleasantly relieved by a large swig from the glass bottle of ice cold Coca-Cola.

In this moment, I can forget the stress of the tiring day of teaching, or the complicated and frustrating cultural differences. Moments like these, spent with good food and friends in Namibia, make this experience unforgettable. It is now that I can look around, absorb where I am, and the work that I’m doing at my school. These experiences serve as a reminder of how blessed I am to be in the beautiful and diverse country that is Namibia. I’ve learned here that often even the most simple of things in life can be the most satisfying – even just an afternoon walk, a stop at the open market, and enjoyment of kapana, fat cakes, and a cool drink.