Liberia

25 Jan

Happy New Year dear followers! May 2012 be a prosperous one for all and may our blog followers multiply. Our goal remains that one dish at a time we may learn and in return educate.

With the holidays and all in between now and our previous blog, it seems like forever.

For 2012 we are taking an approach of a journey around the world. Get your passports and appetites ready because we are off.

We spin the globe and it stops at this month’s country, Liberia!

Liberia was founded by freed American slaves in the early nineteenth century. Their flag is just as the American flag but with only one star.

Liberian cuisine heavily incorporates rice, the country’s staple food. Other ingredients include yuca, fresh fish, bananas, plantains, coconut and okra. Heavy stews spiced with habanero and scotch bonnet chillies that are popular and eaten with fufu. (Sounds very Caribbean as well, it is as if we have come full circle from Africa to the Carribean and America then back to Africa.)  Fufu, a staple snack of West and Central Africa, is a thick paste make from boiling in water starchy root vegetables such as yuca and pounding them in a mortar and pestle until the desired consistency is reached. Tiny roadside restaurants are called “Cook Shops” and feature Jollof Rice.

The greeting of one Liberian to another is unusual, and you might greet your guests this way at your Liberian dinner. When shaking hands you grasp the middle finger of your friend’s right hand between your thumb and third finger and bring it up quickly with a snap. The custom had its origin in the days of slavery when it was not uncommon for a slave owner to break the finger of his slave’s hand to indicate bondage. When the freed slaves colonized Liberia, they began this ritualistic greeting as a “sign” of their freedom.

This round I was able to spoil my pallet with Chef Elizabeth’s creativity. The true art of a Chef is amazing as she reads on the culinary style of the country, familiarizes herself with the core ingredients and viola creates the dishes as a native.

Our starter course was a traditional black-eyed pea soup:

the presence of the peas stood out but only to be enhance by the okra and collard greens.

Main course was Jollof Rice:

This dish reminded me so much of a traditional Arroz con Pollo, but the burst of flavor was amazing.

To finish off our dining experience, Chef Elizabeth prepared a traditional dessert of Stewed Mangoes with a lemon whipped cream:

It’s fascinating how an array of foreign dishes can transport you to another continent but yet feel so familiar that it ties you back to home.

Chef Elizabeth is a talent and a true artist with her culinary skills.


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