Monday Meal Review: Mauritania

I was talking with someone the other day about what this Adventure is all about. She wanted to know if I really thought I could change the world by cooking a meal from every country.

“It just doesn’t seem realistic” she said.

I considered my answer, gazing at the puffy clouds dotted throughout the blue sky.

I immediately thought of our latest Global Table meal – Mauritania, in northern Africa. The week was all about food cooked more than once:

Stuffing simmered before roasting.

Couscous steamed twice before spooning.

Tea boiled four times before sipping.

While each dish was easy enough, there was a lot of waiting around. Of listening to the ticking clock. Of watching the birds sing and swoop just outside our window. Of talking and dreaming and talking some more.

Of taking the time to really see and hear each other.

After all, what else is there to do while cooking and recooking all that food?

“Maybe changing the world is as simple as slowing down enough to experience it,” I finally said, “to appreciate each other – to be present with each other, both locally and globally.” I finally said.

“You know – instead of seeing the world through our cellphones,” I quickly added.

We both laughed.

Just think of the wonderful chain reaction … if we could all slow down at meal time… if we would consider boiling our tea four times, or steaming our couscous twice.  We could use that time to talk to each other.

If, instead of just slurping down our tea (and coffee) in the car, on the way to the office, we actually noticed what we were drinking and who we were with.

“But you’re just one person.” she said.

“Yes, that’s true. I was. But not any longer. There are others.”

I told her how a movement is forming. The Knights of the Global Table are growing in number, all over the planet – regular people bringing other cultures into their own homes by way of stovetop travel. Simply by eating differently. Each time we bring another culture’s food to our table, we come closer to accepting them and their common humanity.

Who knows where it will lead. The good news?

“We care enough to try. And isn’t that enough?”

That same night I ran into this quote, from Dr. Seuss:

Let’s raise a glass to caring. And let’s give three cheers to the movement (because three is better than just one).

Are you cooking along with us? Have you tried some of the dishes? Many? A few? Do you have plans to, but haven’t gotten there yet? I love hearing from you and am always happy to hear how things are going. I welcome your stories!


Rainy Day Cous Cous [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

The texture of this couscous is divine. The rich hint of olive oil, delicately coating each grain, makes for the most luxurious side dish. Ava gobbled this one up, chanting “couscous, couscous, couscous” with every bite. Apparently it’s as fun to say as it is to eat. Since this meal, Ava tries to ask  for it for dinner, but she forgets the name, calling it “that yellow thing” (not sure where she got the “yellow” from). Keith, a.k.a. Mr Picky, enjoyed it as well and ate his fair share.

What I loved least about this dish:

Twice steamed couscous is a bit confusing the first time, if only because I was trying to decipher and adapt other people’s recipes. Thankfully, I believe I came up with a straightforward recipe which will be easy to make from here on out.

Mechoui Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Dried Fruit [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

The rich, sweet fruit with the deep crusted lamb makes for an addictive combination. I chopped up the leftover lamb and added to a lagman shurpa inspired soup from Kazakhstan. Now that’s a true Global Table!

What I loved least about this dish:

I had trouble keeping the stuffing inside the leg of lamb when slicing the meat. I think next time I’ll simply bake the stuffing alongside the lamb, as we do with turkey stuffing. The flavor is fantastic.

Traditional North African Green Mint Tea [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Everything, everything, everything. To quote Mr Picky, “is there anything in this tea besides sugar?” While I don’t  normally go for super sweet drinks, the mint is so refreshing, especially after a heavy meal. It’s the perfect way to finish a meal and all the waiting around encourages great conversation. I hope to make this in a metal kettle around a campfire (or in my chimnea) soon. As for Ava – her thoughts were clear when, one sip in, we got the most fantastic grin.

What I loved least about this dish:

Just be careful of the glass teacups – they get hot, so try to underfill them so you have something to grab onto as you pour the tea in and out (and in and out again!).

Ava’s Corner

P.S. Don’t forget to vote in the polls and help decide our entire Mexican menu…



    • Sasha Martin says

      The glasses got extremely hot, so it was the perfect way to protect the coffee table…

      • aunty eileen says

        Sasha, what is the reason for the tea in the big pot having to be poured into small glasses between each boiling please? Would it be OK to pour into another teapot or pot with a spout and handle?

  1. aunty eileen says

    in part:

    “What’s the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes,
    and to (help) make this muddled world a better place….

    Winston Churchill

    Sasha, you are doing your part in helping to make this world a more peaceful place… it can be seen on every page of this blog… and mostly because you ‘care’ to want to….

    I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to post here on your blog a wonderful old poem entitled

    Someone to Care

    The greatest gift that is given to man is someone to care;
    When you hope and dream, when you work and plan,
    Someone to care;

    Someone to care when the day is long,
    Someone to care when you’re glad with song ~
    When the world goes right when the world goes wrong,
    Someone to care.

    You can seek the top of the highest hill,
    With someone to care;
    You can see the good, you can bear the ill,
    With someone to care.

    The dark may come or the gale may sting,
    But, what the day or the night may bring,
    You still are blessed with a sweeter thing ~
    Someone to care.

    For never a loss will seem a loss,
    With someone to care;
    And never a cross will seem a cross,
    With someone to care;

    Someone to care when your heart is sad,
    Someone to care when your heart is glad ~
    The ones who won were the ones who had
    Someone to care.

    We need not gold if we have but this ~
    Someone to care;
    We shall have our joy through
    The goal we miss.
    With someone to care.

    If there be but one with a faith that’s true,
    If there be but one who believes In you,
    That love will lift and will bring
    You through ~
    Someone to care.

    For what is the use of it all without
    Someone to care?
    When you’re filled with hope or
    Are dark with doubt,
    Someone to care?

    What is the good of it all unless
    There’s someone to share your happiness,
    Someone to care when you win success,
    Someone to care!

    Douglas Malloch

    You ‘care’ Sasha… first and foremost! And, I am thankful Sasha for this blog…
    it is a wonderful blog for the world to see!

  2. Vicky says

    Just because you can’t change bad situations doesn’t mean you should do nothing. You never know what you’ll inspire. 🙂

  3. Lanetta Martin (grandma martin to AVA) says

    Dear Sasha, I loved the poem from aunty eileen!! Someone to Care The children at my church sang a song “Somebody Believes in Me” last Sunday morning. It was an upbeat song about how we are encouraged to be that someone for others. I am so proud of how much you care and believe in helping others learn to care.
    Your interview video was fantastic!!! Just think of the memories you, Ava, and Keith are making while you cook, eat, and explore the lives of other around the globe!!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Yes – it’s beautiful. Sounds like a wonderful song, too. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

  4. Ginny says

    I’m so glad you’re doing this. I’m from Kentucky and I just happened to hear you on Rick Steve’s radio show so I looked up your blog and I’ve started cooking the weekly countries for my family. It’s been so interesting and we’ve learned so much about the world in just the couple of months I’ve been doing it and we’ve discovered some delicious new foods. And it’s made my life more exciting. Thank you for doing it. It is making a difference.

    • Sasha Martin says

      I’m so happy to hear this Ginny – thanks for joining the Adventure… I’m so glad you heard me on the show! As you work your way around, check in to let me know how it’s going. I’m so excited for you and your family! 🙂

  5. maggie says

    Can’t wait to try the lamb! (I clicked on the link to pin the recipe, but it’s pointing to the cous cous recipe instead. Just wanted to alert you.)

    • Sasha Martin says

      Thanks for the heads up – all fixed. PS. thanks for pinning 🙂

  6. I love this post. You are so right: just slowing down and having time for those around us and ourselves is already a start. And caring enough to try is the next step. Introducing your child to different cultures/ingredients/foods when she is still young enough to not have barriers or preconceptions is fundamental and one more step. So many things that are foreign will be familiar, thus friendly, to her. Getting your husband to travel down this road with you and change lifelong habits is a big step for him and for both of you as a couple. Getting people like me, from all over the world, involved and excited about what you are doing is yet another step. Tell your friend this can change the world. One step at a time. I have always been open to all foods and cultures but finding someone like-minded has been a lovely experience and I look forward to reading your posts. Your influence rubs off on what I cook my family, even if I am not using an exact recipe of yours. So everyone who reads you and the people they cook for are taking this trip around the world with you. And becoming more open-minded, willing, less frightened of difference as a result.

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