Democratic Republic of Congo: 1st Stop 2014

28 Jan

Happy New Year 2014 loyal followers! Sorry for the time lapse but 2013 has been a busy and productive year as I have been working hard in the catering world.  What better way of starting the year and giving the globe a spin to see what part of the world our culinary adventure takes us. Pack your appetites because here is a glimpse of what to expect in 2014, we will submerge in the culinary culture of a different country each month. I am excited for this adventure as I have a partner in crime and fellow Chef:  Cody who will be cooking side by side with me. I can’t wait to see the outcome, from the culinary research we do, his creativity and our expertise. Buckle up, as we glide around the globe.

Our first stop for 2014 is the Republique Democratique du Congo. D.R. Congo is centrally located in the beautiful continent of Africa next to the African Great Lakes, it is the 2nd largest country in Africa and 11th in the world. We discovered that in D.R. Congo they do not have the luxury that we take for granted of buying food items at international markets and price not being a concern. Congolese are resourceful and have no choice but to make use of what is available to them and in accord with the season, this is reflective in their cuisine. In a way this is an advantage because it makes them more sustainable. Starch, such as cassava, is a large component of their staple items. Keeping with their sustainable way of life even the cassava leaves are used, this has similarity to how we in the Latin Americas and the Caribbean utilize plantain leaves for tamales to hold the food together and as a flavor enhancer.  Meat is a rarity that when available it is more like a side dish, it is found best in the form of dried or smoked fish and guinea pig. This makes sense as smoked or dried meats preserve longer. Peanuts are in abundance and it is seen in many of their dishes. Last but not least is, stews are very popular. It is a savory way to incorporate and marry all the flavors.

Chef Cody and I prepared a three-course traditional Congolese meal.

Appetizer Akara Awon which translates to Black-eyed Peas Fritter. akara

The amazing ingredient was the fresh ginger which gave this dish such a distinct flavor. We plated this decadent appetizer on a dollop of pink sauce which complemented it very well. Entree was Dongo-Dongo which is Beef Gumbo, awon

the dish was delightfully spicy and was served with brown rice and stewed cassava. You may notice a double starch on the dish which keeps in the tradition of starch enriched meals. We found it fascinating to link how gumbo made it across the Atlantic into dishes that are found in the South of the Continental U.S., also ‘carb’ rich dishes can be found in the Caribbean and Latin Americas as well.

Dessert was Mousse a la Cacahuete (peanut butter mousse)mousse

it was savory and sweet and such a delight to conclude the dining adventure with. Thank you again for traveling with us and we can’t wait to spin the globe tomorrow to see where we land. Bon Appetit!

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