Monday Meal Review: Equatorial Guinea

THE SCENE:

A thick strand of ooze connected my spoon to the serving bowl. I wiped it up quickly, before mounding the spiced okra onto Ava’s plate.

She looked at the dark green mountain. She looked at me, shook her head, and signed for more fish. This wasn’t going to be easy.

“Try the okra, Ava,” I said, cloaking my desperation with a cheerful voice.

“Okra. Okra.” I repeated, slowly. I pointed to the plate and smiled. “Try it!” We watched her. We waited.

Ava scrunched up her nose and shook her head again. She pushed her food around a little, then squealed with delight. Goldmine! She found another piece of fish, hiding behind the okra. She popped it into her mouth and smiled.

One more time I offered her a bite. Just in case.

Again, she shook her head but, instead of saying no, she said – clear as day – “Okwa! Okwa. Okwa!”

We applauded her new word and encouraged her to say it a few more times. She did, beaming and grinning.

She was so happy – so proud – she did what any toddler does – she changed her mind. She ate the okra, with gusto normally reserved for noodles.

All we could do was smile. The fascination with okra may be temporary but, several days later she still says the word, randomly, with giggle fits. We can hope.

THE FOOD:

Millet Porridge with Ginger [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

I enjoyed the unusual play of cinnamon and ginger with the bitter bite of millet flour. Mr. Picky enjoyed eating cinnamon and sugar straight from the spoon. I can’t be sure he ingested any of the cereal, if there was even any under all that sweetener.

What I liked least about this dish:

While the custard texture is lovely, millet is an acquired taste. Next time it might be fun to mix it half and half with regular or rice flour – in order to mellow out the bitter flavor.

Grilled Stuffed Trout [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

The flavor of whole grilled fish is incredible. As it cooks, the skin keeps the moisture and flavor in. Stuffing it with a straightforward melange of onion, poblanos, and lemon slices makes for simple, yet elegant dinner. I particularly like how the lemon juice seeps into the fillet, giving it a bright bouncy bite.

What I liked least about this dish:

I never enjoy staring into the eyes of a fish, but I can get past that for the flavor. Mr. Picky liked everything but the looks and the lemon juice, stating it was a “bit much.” Thankfully using half as much lemon in his piece is no big deal, so that can easily be remedied in the future. Ava, well, she’s all about the fish and she wasn’t a bit bothered by the eyes.

Hot Curried Okra from Equatorial Guinea [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

Easy, easy, easy. The flavor was wonderful – spicy, hot, full of robust curry – perfect for a cold winter’s day.

What I liked least about this dish:

Simmered okra releases a lot of oozy, viscus liquid. The texture was really hard to get past, even with the wonderful flavor. I found draining the okra (with a slotted spoon) and mixing it with rice really helped. I also recently found out that cooking the okra for 45 minutes can eliminate the ooze, so it might be worth a try.

Ava’s Corner

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Comments

  1. So no monkey head, for this time! I’m a bit disappointed :) I love the whole grilled fish, we always prepared trout this way on a barbecue when on holiday in the mountains – go figure they do the same in Equatorial Guinea!

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