This is a “Fairy Ring” – that is, mushrooms popping up in a big circle. Austin spotted this as we were travelling on Victoria Drive in Suva. I’d never heard of a Fairy Ring before. Austin told me (what I’d never ever heard) that mushrooms are mostly underground and the piece that comes out that we see is its reproductive structure, always from the edge. So these mushrooms we see are on the edge of one really big mushroom underground. And it was the first time Austin saw one around a tree.
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BEFORE AN INDIAN WEDDING: MAKING LADDOOS
The sister of my best buddy here is getting married, and as you may have noticed from some of my posts ….. Wow – I haven’t done an Indian wedding yet! Oops!
The typical wedding for Sanatan Hindus, the religion of most of my neighbors, is three days of ceremonies, following many days of preparation. I’ll try to get some of the ceremonies documented, but for now I can tell you about one little piece of the preparation – making one special sweet called Laddoo.
It starts with wheat flour being lightly browned in a little bit of ghee (clarified butter) over the fire.
All the wheat flour is put aside, then the same process is carried out with rice flour. They end up putting 5 or 6 bags of rice flour into the wok. Vina says in the old days the women had to soak rice and then mill it themselves into flour before starting!
Here’s how much rice flour – plus the next metal basin was getting completely dried out at the fire. (I know, so far b-o-r-i-n-g)
“Why the wheat flour?” I ask Vina. “To keep it soft,” she tells me. “Without the wheat flour, the laddoos are really hard.”
Somewhere else, someone toasted sesame seeds and brought them.
Then both flours are added together, and then powdered milk …. and a handful of ground black pepper!
And half a bag of icing sugar.
Off in the kitchen someone has made a simple syrup of sugar and boiling water. One woman is in charge of preparing the little basins of the ladies who will squeeze the laddoos. Each basin gets about 2 cups of the flour and hardly enough syrup.
You put ghee on your hands and then you take a handful and you squeeze, squeeze, squeeze – and lots of crumbly bits fall off. And if you are good at it, you end up with a little laddoo that looks like this:
My laddoos mostly don’t look so good as this one of Vina’s.
“Vina,” I asked, “when did you learn to make laddoos?”
“When I was a little girl, I would sit by my mum and we would make them together.”
What sweet Together-Time that must have been.
All of a sudden I see some MONSTER laddoos on the tray. What’s this? (I’ve been looking at my hands trying to get some laddoos squeezed.) Unseen by me, someone came with 6 washed coins. The coins are pressed into special laddoos that will go to the groom’s family.
As a last few laddoos are pressed, here is the almost final result of an hour of work by about 6 ladies. But what is that OTHER big laddoo? Why is it alone?
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It’s been raining like crazy – four days non-stop after months and months of dry weather. Luckily the rain was gentle and steady, and all soaked in and did not cause erosion or flooding. And now it has passed us.
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Fourteen people here for Austin’s second Happy Chicken Workshop – this time coming from two islands very badly affected by Hurricane Winston: Koro and Moturiki. Yay for the workshops! The project is spreading!
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A sign painter stayed awhile with us. Whee!
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Answer – the other big laddoo is one that the bride carries in one of the ceremonies (don’t ask anything else, because I don’t know!)
Happy week, Everybody!
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