Did She Just Put Parmesan in Her Tea?

This morning, I’m finally proud of myself for figuring out how to do laundry here and knowing to take my shoes off when there’s a rug and figuring out how to wash myself with water.

At around 10am, I [still awkwardly] go downstairs and search for breakfast. I greet Awa, one of the maids, and she asks me what I want to eat: “Qu’est-ce que tu veux manger?”  Except of course, she asks in Wolof, which I don’t understand, so she has to repeat herself in French, which I don’t understand well, and so then she has to repeat herself again in French. I want some fruit, so I ask:

“Est-ce qu’il y a des fruits?”


“Des… fruits? Fruits?”


“…. oui? Des… fruits?”

This is how most of my conversations in this house go. Anyway, Awa tells me that one eats bread for breakfast. I’m not sure why she asked me what I wanted to eat then.

“Non. Pas de fruits. Le petit déjeuner on mange le pain.”

“Oh. …. .. du pain? … Je veux manger du pain?”

“Oui. Je vais l’amèner [sic].”

Find my malaria medicine!

She brings out an elaborate setup. The bread is better than the bread we’ve been eating at school but is still made out of that same light flour (in contrast to the traditionally European harder bread flour). I look in all the tins. There’s some margarine under a lid, and some sugar in the small cylinder. The big cylinder has a creamy-looking powder that smells like parmesan. Interesting! I recall that we had spreadable cheese for breakfast every day and press some of the parmesan into my baguette. It actually sticks to the bread quite well, though it tastes a little sweet and not parmesany at all, so I add another spoonful. Gotta get my nutrition somewhere if I’m eating white flour for breakfast every day!

Marie’tou comes downstairs; we greet each other and she makes herself some tea. I see her put a cube of sugar in, and then she puts in some powder from the big cylinder! Uh oh. That can’t be parmesan then.

I ask her (with many repetitions) what la difference between the two is and she tells me that one is sugar… and that the “parmesan” is powdered milk.

Of course.


4 responses to “Did She Just Put Parmesan in Her Tea?

  1. Mmm, bread with powdered milk! :3 Breakfast for me every day while I was in France was a baguette with Nutella, or some kind of fruit jam. What weirded me out once was when my host father heated up a huge mug of hot chocolate and then proceeded to dunk his croissant into it.

  2. This is so funny because I definitely have never used powder milk since…..ever. I can’t imagine it being very good!

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