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Gewürze aus Santa Lemusa


The magic kettle

Sinthian (Senegal) Ecole (map)

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Thanks to an American foundation the students of Sinthian get a warm meal at noon. Mothers from the village cook; the schoolyard serves as a kitchen. While I watch the women, gazing at how they begin to stir rice in a big pot, I remember the Lemusan fairytale about the pot of beautiful Faba into which one has to throw only a single bean to get the magic kitchen to immediately go into top gear to produce litre after litre of the finest bean soup – and continue to do so until one cries out the word «assez» (enough) thrice. The story resembles the German tale of the ‘sweet mush’ that was passed on by the Brothers Grimm. Of course, the pot, at some point, falls into the wrong hands -- in our case, into the paws of the hoggish and foolish brother. The greedy apprentice of magic does not know how to stop the soup production, because of which first the house, then the village, and finally the whole island, gets flooded by beans. Jean-Marie Tromontis developed the tale further in a hilarious novella in which he lets not just the whole world become a soup flood, but also the entire universe – which ultimately recreates itself with a big bang fart.

While stirring, the women take pains to ensure that no grain of rice is pushed out of the pot – and they control the fire in a systematic, precise fashion. In Africa, if there were a pot that endlessly produced sweet millet mush – how long would it take until someone cried out «assez assez assez»?

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First Publication: 13-2-2016