Christina Coates

Priscilla’s Kitchen with Recipe (from a work in progress)

Priscilla’s kitchen was basic. A Formica table, two steel chairs with plastic seats and backrests, a Univa electric stove, a rickety old cupboard with groceries, a wooden crate with a white plastic lace cloth and an enamel bowl with fruit – a mango, oranges and two bananas. There was also a small fridge and an old-fashioned cooler box with a chicken wire-fronted door. The back door opened to a yard – square with a swept dirt floor, a lemon tree and a fire pit with a black pot.

Wilson appeared at the kitchen door – the one that leads through to the lounge.

“Good evening, Princess,” he said, holding a bunch of flowers to Pricilla. “Princess Priscilla, these are for you.”

Priscilla turned from the stove where she had begun to fry some onions in a pot. “Wilson! You gave me such a fright!”

“No. I don’t want to frighten you,” Wilson said grinning like the cat at the cream. “I want you to smile with pleasure when you see me.”

Priscilla took the flowers, “Thanks.” They were sunflowers and she could not help but smile. “That Wilson,” she thought, “he’s just a boy inside that old body.”

Wilson hovered in the doorway, hat in hand.

“Come and sit,” Priscilla said. “I’m busy cooking this.”

“What is it, Princess?”

“It’s going to be chicken curry if you stop talking,” she said stirring the onions. Wilson watched her as she added the chicken pieces and browned them. Then she stirred in some chopped ginger and garlic, and finally one large red chilli. In the corner one sunflower turned its face towards the pot.

“Can I help?” Wilson asked.

“No you just sit there and count five minutes,” Priscilla instructed. She began to slice in the large mango. It was ripe and the juices ran off the chopping board. Wilson watched hungrily as she held the plump fruit, twisting and turning the knife.

“Are you counting? I can’t let it burn.”

“It’s my heart that counts,” he replied, “blindly without words, all the days I have to wait before I can see you.”

“Count minutes now Wilson!” Priscilla said, “or you won’t eat tonight!” She placed the diced mango in with the chicken. Then she poured in a few drops of fish sauce and a whole lot of soy sauce. She placed the lid on the pot. “Now for some water for those flowers,” she said turning to get a jug. The sunflowers were drooping, looking at the floor.

“My heart longs for water, like it’s a desert,” said Wilson.

“You thirsty? Sorry. I’ll get you a drink,” said Priscilla. The sunflowers turned their heads towards the tap.

“No, Priscilla, not for a drink, not for me nor for the sunflowers. Come here.” He pulled her towards him and enfolded her in his arms.

“Wilson, you are an old man and I am an old woman.”

“Yes but my eyes are open like the sunflowers and they are on you my Princess.”

Chicken Curry

2 onions, chopped
6 chicken pieces
a thumb of ginger, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 large red chilli, chopped finely
1 large greenish mango
1 lemon
2 Tablespoons of fish sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the chicken
to oil and sauté. Add onions and sauté with the chicken.
Stir in the chopped ginger and garlic, and finally
one large red chilli. Slice in the large mango.
Now poured in the juice of one lemon, a few drops
of fish sauce and a whole lot of soy sauce.
Cook until you are sure the chicken is cooked through.
Serve with rice or noodles.

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