At night, after the girl has gone to sleep, the empty kitchen is filled with the pattering of pichi pichi, small, feathered creatures who follow a trail of cake crumbs to the counter where the girl’s messes awaits them. There they stand around with their hands on their hips (to the extent that an amorphous blob can have hips), tsk-tsking in pichi language, making “pfftt” sounds as they chatter amongst themselves about their plan of action for the evening. An ant takes one look at the crew of rotund cleaners and quickly scurries back outside, aware that now is not the time to invade the pantry.
The pichi pichi roll up their sleeves and begin their work, extinguishing all and any dust bunnies, leftover food scraps, stained stovetops, and countertop spills. They are industrious work horses, formed from the building blocks of strength and energy arising from the very island which sustains the life upon which the girl’s survival depends: cassava, that hardy root of goodness and utter versatility; coconut, the superfoody nutty husk of all that is deliciously fatty and fibrous; fresh, pure honey from local garden bees; and just the tiniest punch of sea salt scraped off the reef not five hundred metres from the girl’s kitchen. Made from such fundamentals, the pichi pichi are the guardians of the kitchen, protecting the sacred space from all intruders – except for Norman, the albino gecko, who enjoys an exalted status as tolerated company for the girl.
The pichi pichi traipse forth and begin their midnight travails, trouncing this way and that across the kitchen floor, skidding over the large tiles, bumping into the walls and off one another with delightful squishy thwacks, the same noise as when the girl first spooned them into their muffin tins. Thwack thwack thwack, go the pichi pichi, and the girl is none the wiser as she sleeps in the bedroom, dreaming of coconut crisps and vanilla lemon wafers and other goodies she will make in the morning.
But it is still night, and at night pichi pichi reign supreme. They are up on the counters now, dancing across the dish rack and cutting boards, leaving in their wake a sparkling trail of coconut which will wipe away the grit and leave nothing but clean surfaces when the girl wakes. Boom-ba-da-boom boom go the pichi pichi as they dance across the pots and pans, creating a rhythmic cacophony of primal jungle drums to which the ants march out the front door back to their tunnels, away from the now pristine kitchen.
The demons of activity bounce from the top of the refrigerator to the tops of the cabinets, their thoroughness knowing no bounds. They duck into the oven and ricochet around like bouncy balls in a drying machine, whizzing so fast that a loud buzzing resonates from the oven racks as the pichi pichi strum past them.
Now only the fridge remains. Slowed by the cold temperature, the pichi pichi roll lazily back and forth, wiping up any spilled food and deep-cleaning all the corners and hard to reach places, until the fridge sparkles with brand new-level cleanliness.
Finally the pichi pichi are finished. They line up in single file and trundle off into their hibernation units, ready to sleep and begin again when midnight strikes tomorrow.
- 1 package (~2 cups) (frozen or fresh) grated cassava
- 1.5 cups coconut water, water boiled w/ pandan leaves, or regular water
- 3-5 tb honey (adjust to taste) or maple syrup (V)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp pandan essence (if you can't find the leaves; but go w/ leaves if you can't find this w/o artificial ingredients), or vanilla extract if you can't find pandan essence/leaves
- ½ - 1 tsp grassfed gelatin (optional, gives it additional bite/acts as a 'lye water' substitute)
- ½ cup fresh shredded coconut (or add some water to ½ cup dried coconut)
- Mix all of the ingredients except the coconut together.
- Pour into nonstick molds (I used silicone muffin molds), place in a steamer, and steam for about 40 minutes or until mixture looks firm and translucent.
- Scoop out pichi-pichi using an ice cream scoop and roll in fresh coconut until completely covered.