Tuesday, October 6, 2009

African feast

As part of any education, well, there's gotta be food! M1 was studying ancient Africa this last week, learning bits and pieces about some of the ancient northern African peoples who moved south when the Sahara became the Sahara. To supplement this, I decided to have an African-themed "feast."

All of my recipes came from a web site entitled Congo Cookbook. Despite the annoying banner ads and occasional pop-ups, the web site itself is a font of great information. The food was all delicious.

The first dish that I made was matoke. Those potato-looking pieces that you see are actually plantains, and I'll share a funny story about those in a minute. If you use the recipe on the Congo Cookbook, bear in mind that what you're seeing here is a total of SIX plantains. I can't imagine using 8-10 like the recipe suggests. And definitely use coriander. It makes the plantains taste even more potato-like! Oh, and get the plantains rather green. Yellow ones do taste a bit sweeter.
The story about the plantains: I went to the store to get the stuff for this and bagged up half a dozen plantains and plopped them in the cart. As M1 and I were wandering through the rest of the produce section, a woman with a strong Caribbean accent stopped us.

"How do you cook the plantains?"

"Usually I fry them."

"How? Do you let them ripen?"

I explained my usual method of twice-frying them into things called tostones taught to me by a friend from Puerto Rico.

"Hm. Okay. I just see these white people buying plantains and always wonder if they know how to cook them."

She was so well-meaning and sweet and honest, I couldn't help but smile. I laughed even more when little old eavesdropping ladies then stopped me to ask how I cooked them and then went to check out the remaining plantain selection.

Moving to the next item on the menu...

Chapati. I used 50% white flour and 50% whole wheat. They came out a bit tough, which means I probably should have kneaded them a bit longer, but they were very tasty and very simple to make. I also made them a lot smaller than the original recipe called for. If I had made them the way the recipe had called, I think I would have gotten maybe 3. Not enough.

The kids had absolutely no problems eating all this food for dinner, completely with African percussion music playing in the background.

This is dessert - fool. So very simple to make, and the kids loved it! I took bananas, canned mango, and canned papaya, and threw it all in the blender. After liquifying it, I mixed it with... wait for it... Cool Whip! Gee, wonder why the kids liked it.

After dinner, the kids broke out the musical insruments that we had made. You can see M1 here with his rain stick (filled with sticks and popcorn), and I had a picture of M2 with her maracas (filled with rice and pine nuts) but it didn't turn out. Plus M2 really wanted a picture of her dancing on here.

They danced off to bed.

M1 ate leftover matoke for lunch today, cold, and declared it delicious.

I do believe these recipes shall be made again.

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