Mother’s day can be incredibly confusing when you are used to living between cultures. In Mali, the country my esteemed father hails from, people follow the French day which usually falls on the last Sunday of May, while here in Kenya, my mother’s native country, we follow the US traditions and celebrate it on the second Sunday of the same month. To make matters worse, when I was living in the UK, I would always get a surge of guilt some time in March when the mother’s day reminders would start popping up; I would at this point hurry off to phone home, only to be answered with chuckles as Mama pointed out I was a month or so early.
To be honest at a certain point I all but gave up on the concept of mother’s day and just focussed on calling her on her birthday. This year, however, I intend to mix things up a bit as my Mama recently suffered a minor incident at the gym which has left her mostly bedridden. Instead of her usual spritely self, she has been confined to the tedium of daytime
tv and to reading books which seem to always end up depressing her— actually that’s probably my fault; I should have guessed that now was not a good time to insist she read Chimamanda’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”.
How does one surprise a bedridden mother who does not expect to be celebrated? Easy of course, cook her something yummy and turn her bed into a veritable feasting space. Light feasting though, mind you, as she’s already been complaining to me that all the carbs she keeps on eating are making her feel bloated. To make things infinitely easy for myself, I am going to make the same recipe I tested out on my friend Amy just the other day. This consisted in: goat cheese cauliflower mash accompanied by veal and asparagus rolls. Yes there isn’t much else to it: boil the cauliflower and mash it up with a light fluffy goat’s cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
For the rolls visit one of Nairobi’s fancier butchers and ask them to finely slice you some veal escalopes (calculate about two each). Then invest in some quality sliced cheese (gouda or black danbo should work fine), some unwaxed lemons for zest, and a bunch of asparagus (steamed).
The idea is that you lay out your piece of meat on a surface, put in first your cheese, then some lemon zest and finally two asparagus (cut in half so there are four stalks coming out of the wrap) on one of the ends. Sprinkle some salt over the mixture and then take the end with the asparagus, tightly roll it and skewer it with a toothpick to keep everything in place. Put it in a tray and stick it in a preheated oven (160 °C). Last time I baked it all for about 20 minutes and when the cheese started coming out at the ends I took that as my cue to remove it.
The only question remaining is at this point: will it be ok if I give my mother a glass of her favourite Amarula on ice as dessert? The rest of the family won’t approve but can they argue on mother’s day?