The ocean there, it’s infinite, a place where horizon and water meet like a seam in a dress, a little bump and then smoothness again. Sunlight pierces the dawn’s fading blackness and, overhead, the parasitic gulls swirl, their curved yellow beaks moving incessantly, filling the air with their own peculiar songs. And then human voices join in, throbbing, shutting out the pounding noise of the waves. Senegalese fishermen singing Men, women, and children rush to the boats, thrusting their hands […]
Belleville, the site of my upcoming study in France, filled with other worlds and other tongues, other ways and other dreams, but all French, just the same.
Yes, I know, you’re overwhelmed with preparations for Christmas. If you’re like me, you’re still trying to come up with THE menu that will knock Uncle Scrooge out of his foul grinchy mood. So how come I’m looking at New Year’s foods already? There’s a good reason — there’s only one thing to eat that day. Black-eyed peas, a gift from a part of Africa ruled by the French for a long time. [They were there as early as 1659 at […]
Categories: Africa, African Cooking, Cooking, France, New Year's Day, Southern Food • Tags: Africa, African Cooking, Black-Eyed Peas, Cabbage, Chou, Dawadawa, New Year's Day, Niebe, Pois yeux noirs, Science Magazine, Senegal, Southern cooking, Striga, Virginia, Witchweed
Continued from January 7, 2010: In the beginning, dealing with Michel’s injured finger didn’t bring out the best in me. Truthfully, I longed to wash my hands of my cook’s ineptness. I did not want to take the time to deal with any of it. And yet, seeing Michel disintegrating in pain, well, I knew that I had no choice. Like it or not, I was involved. With a Burkinabe friend’s help, I found a local doctor willing to look […]
Cooking in Africa follows certain patterns: Universals – Onions, tomatoes, peppers Starches – Cassava, cocoyams, sweet potatoes, cornmeal (mealie meal and samp or dried corn kernels, etc.), bananas, plantains, yams, rice, millet, sorghum, fonio, couscous Thickeners – Okra, melon and squash seeds (egusi), peanuts Vegetables – Pumpkin and other squashes, green leaves, okra, eggplant, black-eyed peas West Africa is no exception to this culinary pattern. This part of Africa includes Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, […]
Réunion is a country. About 800 kms. east of Madagascar. Off the coast of Africa. A former fueling/supply station for ships on their way to Asia for spices. A bit “out there,” yes. But the food there … tastes and flavors marry each in ways only possible when people from different cultures meet each other and, well, you know. Beginning officially in 1649, France wielded power, political and culinary, over this small way-station (then called “Bourbon”) in the Indian Ocean. […]
Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe once wrote that proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten. A recipe for chicken in red palm oil: CHICKEN IN RED PALM OIL Serves 4-6 ¼ c. red palm oil 1 chicken, cut up for frying ½ t. ground coriander 1 t. sea salt 1 t. dried orange peel 1 t. dried minced garlic 1/4 t. ground hot red pepper (cayenne) Melt the red palm oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Mix the […]
African palm oil — from Elaeis guineensis and used in traditional African cooking — adds a rich red color and unctuous mouthfeel to many stews and sauces. Rich in beta-carotenes, palm oil contains no trans fats since it is not hydrogenated. Unfortunately, palm oil also packs a huge wallop to the environment because of demand for palm-oil-based biofuels and cosmetics. In other words, large multinational corporations found out about this traditional food. Now rainforests face degradation in increasing numbers, as […]
Nearly all writers on Southern food agree that African slaves influenced the evolution of Southern food. Here’s a video of Burkina Faso, where I lived for two years, and a lunch served in a village.
Maze-like unpaved streets and red-mud brick buildings lend the aura of a rural village to the West African metropolis. Women garb themselves in vibrant and symbolic yellow and red and blue and green batik-cloth robes. Smoke and pollution from thousands of charcoal cooking fires and thousands of overloaded and under-maintained mopeds daily saturate the scorching 96º F air. Lined on either side with towering modern street lamps, each topped with a foul-smelling vulture waiting for something to die, a lone […]
It didn’t take long for the red dust to coat the white Nissan Patrol 4WD like the sugar crust on a crème brulée. Thick. Crunchy. Slightly gritty. “Look like we here,” Moussa, our Muslim driver, said, his Moré accent glossing the familiar English words. The Land Rover turned off the long straight highway at Koudougou. Two weeks after arriving in-country, not yet used to 120 degree F heat pulsating like an overheated car’s exhaust pipe, we’re deep in the bush, […]