On Sunday we had our first cooking-with-the-intent-of-selling meeting. It was a little messy on our end because we woke up in Korogwe and it was raining and Ashley had to return in the evening. This meant that Ashley arrived at the start time for the meeting and then I tag-teamed in (late because of the rain) and she headed back into town.
The women gathered belatedly, Ashley brought out the supplies and we began to cook. The women expertly peeled the potatoes and washed them. Marc, one of the PCs in Lutindi, had a mandolin slicer sent to him last year. I’d never heard of this kitchen implement, but it’s an incredibly effective thin slicer. The women tried it out last time we cooked and really liked it. It makes much more consistent slices than they can with a knife alone or a veggie peeler. We had Ana buy another one for us in the US. They took turns trying to figure out how to use it well.
We then fired up the stove (aka three stones to place the pan on with sticks put in the gaps) and added oil to the pan. We placed portions of the potatoes in the oil and one woman manned the chips while the rest sat and chatted.
I brought out some packs of chips that we had cooked the first time and asked them to look at them. One package had soft chips that were molding and one package was still crispy. We didn’t know if the different was the quality of the seal on the packaging or if the chips were still hot when they were packaged and so they condensated and began to mold (do any of you guys know?). The women decided that we should wait until the next day before packaging the chips. They all assured me they would return the next day.
So the following day I waited around for anyone to show up to package them. No one came. It was raining all day so there was lots of water in the air and the chips lost their crispness. I began mentally planning the meeting the following Sunday in which I would have to tell the women we made no money because no one packaged the ships and they spoiled.
However, the next day all of the women showed up. I was impressed that they had managed to organize themselves without any prompting from me. This gives me a lot of hope that the group will continue to work even while we’re gone. I made all of them try the non-crisp chips first and asked them if they were worth packaging. The women said they were (I wouldn’t have bought them) and we commenced packaging. We ended up packaging 45 bags before we ran out of bags and sent them off to Mama Aggie’s shop to sell during the week.
Next week: profits!