Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Fan Seeks Football Team

The pre-birthday existential angst is manifesting itself in a whole new way this year.  I've decided my new year's revolution is to choose and support a football team.

Too many Mondays in work and education, I've been unable to join in discussions about weekend matches.  I don't know any managers now the cross Scottish one has left Man U.  (I do actually know his name, it just slips my mind .... Fergie!  That's the one!  Either Alex or Alasdair Ferguson.)

And there's one whose name even sounds like his team ... Arsenal.  Arsen Wenger?

I'm stumped when it comes to the off-side rule.  I understand it in a diagram, but on the TV screen it happens too fast.  I stare at the screen during a match, but I just follow the crowd's lead.  Is this too honest?  (I happen to know I'm by no means alone in doing this but I won't name names.)

Anyways, so I decided recently that I must not become a theological bore.  I'm not musical, so the other fast-acting social glue available to me is football.

I know plenty of people who feign interest in the beautiful game in order to fit in.  I never even bothered to.  Figured, why should I be something I'm not?  Better to be authentic, different if needs be.

I'll tell you why.  Ministry.  I need small talk in order to engage people without going straight for the theological jugular.  Not for any dodgy, manipulative evangelizing purpose, but to be a well-functioning member of larger society.

So, this is the year I learn to appreciate football, and crucially, support a team.  I never understood why people felt such loyalty to a team from a far-off city they have no link to, when their success depends on international financial transactions more than any sense of local pride.  But I divert ...

I'm going to go the whole nine yards.  Not a quirky European team, it's got to be an English premier league or first division team.  I couldn't do Scottish football, far too sectarian.

So, if you have any suggestions other than Man United (I couldn't quite go that mainstream), for an as yet team-less fan, please tell me in no more than thirty words why your team deserves my support.

Choroko with sticky rice and chapattis

This dish does not look pretty, but it tastes good!

We had this a few times in Uganda.  Juliette, who cooked for us, was unsure at first - she felt she should be giving us more meat.  But we loved her traditional Lugbara food: rice and cabbage, white beans and garlic, courgette in groundnut paste, and this yummy stew of mung beans.  

I wish there was another name for mung beans.  The name doesn't do them justice.  They are delish.

Choroko (mung bean stew) with sticky rice and chapattis

It's easy to make.  Soak two cups* of mung beans for 6 hours or overnight.  Rinse, boil in plenty of water for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute** two onions until soft and translucent, then add four (yes, four!) cloves of garlic, a teaspoonful of ground coriander and half a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper.  A minute or two later, add a can of chopped tomatoes, and season well.

When the beans are soft, drain them and add two thirds to the tomato mixture.  Mash the rest up before you add them, with a cup of water, as that'll help thicken it up a bit.

Cook on a medium heat for another 10-15 minutes.

Now, my sister-in-law recently told us she makes her rice in the microwave and it comes out nice and sticky.  So, microwave some basmati rice.

Ugandans serve choroko with chapattis.  I found an easy peasy recipe for gluten-free ones.  Put a cup of gram (chickpea) flour in a bowl.  Add a tablespoonful of olive oil.  While stirring, add up to a cup of warm water.  You won't need the whole cup - don't let it get too sticky, but if it does just add more flour.  Make four balls, roll them flat, and dry-fry for a minute on each side.  They're ready to turn when bubbles rise.

Of course, if you want to be really authentic, you'll scoff it down using your right hand instead of cutlery!  

* Measuring cups are the way to go.  Americans are on to a good thing.
** How do you do an acute accent on Blogger?