The line between abuse and fairness is so thin that even people sensitive to such matters can’t always recognize it. Recently, my cook Tieta’s sickness remind me that people working for me have their own needs and problems.


As any Mozambican, Tieta has malaria at least twice a year. I am prepared for that. The question is that her malaria has the tendency of picking the worst moments, if there are good moments for malaria at all…


That week was difficult for me because Tieta came one day, but the next called to tell that she wasn’t feeling well again and couldn’t show up. Things here were a bit busy, once Andy had to bring extra help to fix a car. So, we have to feed the usual five plus two mechanics. When I learned that she wasn’t supposed to come, I couldn’t avoid a gesture of displeasure. Almost immediately I remembered that she can’t be here always for me, and I reacted. Instead of complaining, I’ve done the best I could. And now, that I am writing, I am glad to say: total success!


Besides the usual routine, my attention went to the preparation of lunch for eight. I usually like to plan easy menus, like steaks or fillets. This time I was audacious. I started with two salads: the first made from finely shopped tomato, yellow peppers, red onions, garlic, fresh coriander, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil; the second salad consisted of lettuce, nice baby spinach from Kenya, avocado and fresh seeds. After the salads, I went for the soup, opting for a cream of potato, onions, garlic and cannellini beans, to which I added small sized pasta, after straining the purée.


I steamed cooked broccolis for the ones who don’t like green salads and started the main dish: prawn curry with white rice. I have to confess here that guard Albert helped with the prawns, but for the rest I was alone. I knew the result was fantastic the moment I saw Paul, who I had asked to taste, to help himself for three times (before lunch!). With someone like Paul near it’s easy to know when we are successful in the kitchen: he just can’t leave the pan alone!


Because success is the best incentive that exists, I decided I had a few minutes before lunch to bake a cake. This photo also shows the cake while baking… And so I’ve done it. At the end, I told Paul: “No walking today. I am exhausted!” Do you know his reaction? “No way. You have to walk!” he said peremptorily.


The walk or no walk discussion went for a good while, before I remembered the reason of his insistence. With the excuse of Mother’s Day, I received yesterday a new pair of black and pink running sneakers. He just couldn’t wait to see me wearing it! He was so adamant that I remembered a book I’ve recently finished, about how Chinese husbands used to force their wives to wear tiny shoes or bracelets that could break their bones.


So I went walking in black and pink sneakers – very comfortable, if you ask. It wasn’t that difficult, but I couldn’t help thinking: “At same point, we all have to deal with some form of serfdom…”