Look, Mom, I can get married now!

Would you kiss this cook?  (Kidding, don’t answer that.) 
I’m beginning to really settle into a routine here in Maringá.  Despite the occasional battle with insomnia–due to the basilisk living in my kitchen, it’s gotten a bit bad lately, but I’m learning Parseltongue and I’m sure it’ll all turn out fine in the end–I’ve pretty much found my groove as an independent “innocent abroad,” and today I proved it…with food.
Ladies and gentlemen, I can cook.
This plan’s been in the works since last week, when I promised my new hosts that I would contribute to the cooking chores around the house.  To be honest, I tried to put the whole thing off, but with me leaving for Foz do Iguaçu tomorrow (at midnight, just bought the bus tickets today), there was really no time like the present to enact my grand master plan to introduce Filipino food to Brazil.
(Okay, to be honest, my grand master plan was more of “don’t give anyone food poisoning.”)
I bought the bulk of my ingredients yesterday, settling on giniling (beef though, and not the usual pork–apparently ground pork isn’t common here) as it is a relatively simple dish that even this n00b of a chef can handle.  Basically you throw ground meat and vegetables into a frying pan, add salt, pepper, sugar, and soy sauce, and it magically becomes edible.
…seriously, if I screwed that up, I would be irredeemably hopeless.
To add pressure to an already tense culinary situation, I decided to invite my co-intern and soon-to-be ex-partner, Ciarán, over for dinner, as if potentially poisoning my four hosts wasn’t a bad enough prospect. 
They have absolutely no idea what they’re in for…and neither do I.
After about an hour and a half barefoot in the kitchen–and with the help of my two sous chefs, Fernanda and Carla (who couldn’t help but laugh the whole time; it got really obvious that I don’t cook much when I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a garlic press.)–I had managed a pan full of giniling with carrots, peas, Baguio beans (I have no idea what other countries must call those things.), green bell pepper, and of course garlic and onions (which Carla had to chop since I started tearing up).  I have to admit I was more than a little terrified when I started “plating” it for everyone, but to my relief they all seemed to like it and Midori and Carla even tried to sneak away bits of the remainder I’d saved for Camila.
After the om-nom-noms!

It’s pretty heartening to know that I can actually perform standard household tasks and I’m not as hopeless and sheltered as I sometimes think I am.  I mean, sure, I still need to sleep with a nightlight and I keep getting lost…but I can wash my clothes!  And I can cook!
…except now I’ve got to figure out what to make next.  *ulp*
~ NC

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