Once upon a time in Africa

Once upon a time, The Angry Chef worked for an organisation which sent him to Africa every so often. In spite of sometimes unusual events that took place during these trips, The Angry Chef would always come back home with fantastic stories to tell.

On one funny (not funny “ha-ha”) occasion, courtesy of a certain volcano in Iceland, I found myself trying to get to Africa for a business trip (I gave up after I tried to get on two flights that were cancelled), and The Angry Chef found himself trying to get back to Geneva from The Gambia (which, in the end, included the possibility of  a flight from The Gambia to Casablanca, from Casablanca to Rome and from Rome to Geneva, which, thankfully, never happened. What did happen a few days later was that he ended up driving through the Senegalese desert to Dakar, then took a flight from Dakar to Tunis, and a flight from Tunis to Nice, where a rental car was waiting for him and his equally stranded colleagues, and from where he drove the six hours it takes to get from Nice to Geneva).

And then one time, he brought home something interesting with him.

Before you raise one of your eyebrows in suspicion (or start laughing at me), I’ll have you know that what he brought was not illegal. Perhaps also not entirely compliant with health and safety regulations in most European countries, but nonetheless, nothing openly illegal, anyway.

What The Angry Chef brought into our household was Ghanaian gin.

Actually, when you refer to it as gin, you’re being very kind. This was actually moonshine, known locally as akpeteshie. One of the people who was working with The Angry Chef in Ghana had his wife (a primary school teacher, I’ll have you know) buy a bottle from one of the “producers” in their village. She had it delivered to The Angry Chef’s office in Accra in a blue plastic bottle with no label, in a brown paper envelope with no address.

As The Angry Chef had spent most of his time in Ghana explaining to different organisations and NGOs what was required for them to get funding from his organisation (advice which, as advice often is, wasn’t particularly welcome), when a secretary interrupted a meeting to say someone had just dropped off a bulky brown envelope at the entrance to the attention of a Mr Angry Chef (someone who preferred not to leave a name or a message and also preferred to leave in a hurry), The Angry Chef was a little uneasy. It wasn’t until one of his colleagues (one that was grateful for The Angry Chef’s advice) said that this had probably been delivered by his wife. He had wanted to give The Angry Chef a gift from Ghana to take back to Switzerland, and his wife suggested Ghanaian gin.

We had some of the gin from time to time (in any given drink, you should normally use half as much Ghanaian gin as you would commercial gin, otherwise there might be some irreversible health-related consequences, such as blindness). We also used it in fondue a couple of times instead of the more traditional Swiss kirsch (in case you’re wondering: it makes the cheese dance on your tongue, and gives it a bit of a berry tang to the overall flavour of the fondue).

Alas, a couple of weeks ago, upon establishing that the brown little particles that had formed inside the transparent liquid wouldn’t make for a fantastic G&T, we decided to say goodbye to the Ghanaian gin and use it to unclog the sinks and drains in the apartment.

But why am I telling you all this (apart from the fact that we recently received a bottle of waragi, or triple distilled and entirely legal Ugandan gin, as a gift)?

What I meant to say is that I’ve been terribly busy last week (and this past weekend) getting our home ready for the arrival of The Angry Chef’s family (as well as some of my own), who are on their way to Geneva for Christmas. And when you start cleaning up the apartment, you must ask yourself these important three questions: Can I get away with keeping this for another year?, Does this have any deep sentimental value? and the inescapable Should I just go ahead and put this in the cellar?

Thank you so much for reading and I promise to update on the progress (or lack thereof) of the manuscript…


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