Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gabriel

Meet Gabriel....
Gabriel is our angel.   He is always smiling and has a great attitude.  And when Charles calls at 5pm to say that he is not coming home for dinner, Charles is in the doghouse with Gabriel - not me!  :) 

Gabriel spoils us.  He makes this.... 
Nigerian Chicken, Jollof rice and dodo (fried plantains)

and this...
Stuffed potatoes and peppers,
Spanish rice and salad,
with his special homemade dressing.

And this...
Tuna and Potato Salad with corn and peas. 
It really doesn't sound good, but it tastes wonderful. 
Interestingly enough, corn and green peas seem to show up in most salads and is very Nigerian.
 
Gabriel was a bit concerned that I took a picture before he finished making this yummy salad.  :)

Gabriel enjoys working on presentation, especially since he knows I like to take pictures of food.  He's very creative.  In the three months that I have been in Nigeria, we have only had a few meals repeated.   His repertoire is so amazing and I never know what we are having before I sit down for dinner, since I've gratefully turned over the control of our menu.  He does Italian, Greek, Asian, Nigerian, American, Spanish and Indian in addition to homemade bread and sauces.  He sits in the kitchen and studies cookbooks.  He enjoys learning new things and takes his cooking duties seriously.   He asked me the other day if I would teach him how to use the dishwasher, since he has never seen one before! 

And he prepares desserts too....
Coconut pie using FRESH coconuts that he cracks in the kitchen. 
He TOTALLY won me over with his flan....
Oh my goodness gracious!  Flan!!
  
I think that Flan looks much better when a large piece is taken out of it,
especially when that piece is sitting on my plate! :)

And did I mention breakfast?  We have breakfast every morning at 7am and Charles leaves for work at 7:25 for his 10 minute commute.  It's a nice way to start the day.  Pictured below is homemade bread toasted, fresh-squeezed orange juice and fresh pineapple, papaya and mango from the local market.  And I honestly thought before I arrived that I might starve to death living here.  I came packed with tons of peanut butter crackers and instant mashed potatoes in my suitcase. 

 Gabriel still thinks that is funny.  :) 


Gabriel also does our cleaning and laundry.  He even irons our underwear, which I have to admit seemed pretty weird at first.  However, we have since learned about the African tumbu flies which lay eggs on wet clothing.  Thankfully ironing everything kills them. Trust me, we do NOT want Tumbu flies burrowing into our skin!      So between sanitizing the produce, cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing everything we own, Gabriel is MUCH appreciated - especially since he works about 12 hours a day! 


Gabriel lives with us in a tiny area called the BQ - "Boys Quarters".  Our BQ is right outside our flat separating us by 2 locked doors.  The first time I saw it, my heart just broke.  He had a tiny, thin child-sized mattress on the floor which had to be put against the wall in order to open the door.  His chair and mattress didn't fit in the room together. 
  Charles touches both sides of the BQ with his fingers.

We called a contractor and had a new bed built for the space, raising it high off the ground to give additional room. He has a little refrigerator which fits under his bed. We gave him a TV for the shelf at the foot of his bed, and his chair now fits in the compact room. The dimension of his 'home' is 6 feet wide by 7 feet long. His bathroom contains a tiny sink, a commode and a shower head. When the shower is turned on, the sink and the commode get wet and the floor has a drainage space right in the middle. His clothes hang on nails hammered to the back of his door. We had a mattress made to fit his new bed and he just kept telling us that it is "beautiful, just beautiful".

He is so proud of his new room. 
Gabriel works for us Monday through Friday.  He leaves early Sat morning for the 2 hour trip home and is back in time to prepare our 7am breakfast on Monday mornings.   He has a wife and 6 children - ranging in age from 14 to 30 - 5 girls and 1 boy.  For a long time, we thought he only had a son, since he was the only one mentioned.  To have a son is a source of pride.  He is proud of his girls, but his son is something special, especially since he is in theology school.  Gabriel also has a 5 year old granddaughter that lives in his home as well.   Someone has programmed her laugh for his cell phone, which makes me smile every time it rings.  Also, when we call Gabriel on his cell, we listen to 2 minutes of AMAZING GRACE before he picks up.    He works in his Catholic church and conducts marriage classes every Saturday.  He comments often (albeit kindly) on our marriage since he considers himself a bit of an expert.  :)  He has been married for many, many years, so he is certainly experienced!

When I asked Gabriel if I could take a picture, he wanted a copy of it ONLY if it was a good one, without a smile.   This was the picture that he liked best. He says that he doesn't like his smile because his teeth are rotting out.   Even though that is obviously true, he is so happy that his smile just radiates.  The serious picture (which is going home to his wife) just doesn't look like him to us, although it does look more 'professional'.   
I wonder if Gabriel (and family) would be open to relocation someday?  :) 

1 comment:

Randall said...

For some reason I can't feel your pain. You are a long way from the pink tent. Amazing, you get to go to a 5 star restaurant at every meal.