Aseeda looks white because of the flour it is made with, and it is as pale as the sky, the color of the first day of snow. It tastes like freshly baked bread. It feels soft enough to sleep in while you dream.
I remember my first time trying to cook for my family. We used to live in Juba, a small city in Southern Sudan, and when I was eight years old, my parents left me home alone. My father was at work and my mother went out somewhere. I didn’t know where. My little brother and sister were at my cousin’s house. Her house was five miles away from where we lived. I didn’t want to go to my cousin’s house because she was always yelling, and I hated that. She didn’t ask me nicely to do things for her; instead, she would yell at me to do it, even though I wanted to help her.
I stayed home for a while by myself and none of my family came back. I got hungry, but there was no food already made in the house and no place to go to get something to eat. I checked the pantry where my mom kept the food ingredients. I found some flour and beans, and so, because I was very hungry, I decided to try cooking aseeda for everyone even though I didn’t 28 know how to do it. I thought my family would be proud of me for cooking for them, but instead I made the worst meal ever.
My mom always made the best foods for our family. When she cooked she added so much stuff that I couldn’t keep track of it all. But when she was making aseeda, it looked easy. But it’s not.
I got the flour and some water. I started a fire outside the house with wood that I put in our outdoor oven. I used a match, we call it kibrit, to start the fire. Then, I boiled the water. The pot was so full that it started to boil over and spill. I didn’t know what to do, and because I was so hungry and wanted to finish everything fast I just kept adding more flour. I got out the lafraga, and I started mixing and mixing the flour and water with it, waiting for the dough to get harder and harder. I think it took me an hour and a half. It is supposed to be hard, but when I touched the dough it felt soft, so I added more and more flour.
When I took it off the fire there was so much flour in the pot that I couldn’t even mix it anymore. I was trying as hard as I could to mix it, but it stuck to the pan. I tried harder, but I didn’t want to touch the pan because it was hot, and I took off my shirt and used that to grab the pan. I kept mixing, and the stick I was mixing with broke off because the dough was so hard. Then I thought to myself: how does my mom do this?
I decided to pour it on the plate as it was, and I added some salt. It looked inedible; it was all mixed with the flour, and hard. I just decided to eat it like that. That aseeda was the nastiest food I had ever eaten. But I was so hungry that I kept on eating it. There was so much dry flour in it that hadn’t been mixed into the dough that, with every bite I took, a small bubble of flour popped in my mouth. I only ate about a quarter of it before I decided I just couldn’t eat any more.
When my mom came home and found me with the horrible aseeda, I thought she was going to kill me for breaking her lafraga, but instead she started laughing. She said, “What are you trying to do, cook?” And she kept laughing as she made a fresh batch just for me to eat. Since that time, I haven’t wanted to try cooking again.