Monday Meal Review: South Sudan

What is a celebrity?

One definition is someone who commands “public fascination.”

Could this be the profile of one such person?

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This week we shared our meal with a very special guest; someone who has actually traveled to South Sudan, slept in their huts, hunted in their forests, and enjoyed feasts while sitting at the right hand of the village Chief.  I’d tell you when all this happened, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy.

I’ve wanted to invite this man to our table for a long time, partly because he is so passionate about the cultures of the world, but also because anywhere he goes, he comes back with stories.

Enough to fill a 450 page book, actually.

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Say ‘hello’ to Brian Schwartz.

You might recognize him from his lengthy, insightful comments… He’s been sharing them from the very beginning of this blog. Without him, my adventures into Africa and parts of Asia would have been much quieter, but his memories (and music!) have livened up our stovetop travels … making me (and I’m sure many readers) feel as though we were right there, in the countries.

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I consider him to be a  Knight of the Global Table and … yes… even our own little celebrity.  Certainly, in South Sudan he was treated as such (it is typical in South Sudan for travelers to be treated like celebrities).

As we ate our meal, we sat rapt while his deep tenor ambled through memories as he read from his book, A World of Villages.

If you haven’t already watched the video at the top of this page… go back.. and enjoy as he reads a bit of his prose.

THE FOOD:

Peanut Stew with Beef & Spinach | Combo [Recipe]

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What I loved most about this dish:

Combo comes together quite easily, and with some minor modifications (mainly more beef), I think I would make this again. At first, Ava tucked her Combo into her Kisra as a wrap, which was very cute and actually quite brilliant (a wrap is visually less intimidating way for a toddler to eat mushy spinach-laden food). Mr Picky, Brian, and I all went back for seconds, even thirds, and before long the giant platter was scraped clean. (A special thanks to Brian for the platter, what a lovely hostess gift!)

What I loved least about this dish:

Original recipes use twice as much spinach and more than twice as much peanut butter… while I would have liked to have tried this, even my giant pot could never have held that much food… and I already found the peanut butter to be quite strong.

Kisra | Sorghum Crepes [Recipe]

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What I loved most about this dish:

These are so wonderful and easy… and the idea of using a “Credit Card” to spread out the batter is so fun. They’d be great on the side of any soup or stew and I’m definitely making them again. The sorghum gives the kisra a wholesome, wholegrain flavor and a delicate snap, which makes them hard to stop eating. Just ask Ava…

What I loved least about this dish:

I made these twice because I didn’t realize I needed to add some all purpose flour the first time I made them. When they cracked and fell apart, I learned most South Sudanese add some flour so that the gluten will bind together the gluten-free sorghum. Once I did this, they came out perfect.

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Sudanese Tomato Salad [Recipe]

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What I loved most about this dish:

Everything! This salad is so refreshing and is a great weeknight dinner option. The combination of peanut and lime juice feels very tropical. That being said, I think I’ll add more Thai bird chili peppers in the future.

What I loved least about this dish:

While I enjoyed the mild flavors, I think a super hot version would be more authentic and fun to try some time. Since Ava can’t eat super spicy food, I separated out a bit of the dressing for her before I added the chilies, so in this case I’d do the same. Other than that, the sauce does separate… so be prepared to whisk it up right before serving.

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Comments

  1. What a great honor to have Mr.Schwartz as a guest! I always enjoy reading his comments, and can imagine what it was like having him share his personal stories with all of you

    I searched for sorghum flour in one store in town, no luck, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find it in a particular spot that I intend to go soon.

  2. This is the nicest thing that anyone has ever written about me in my whole life. (Tears in my eyes.)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      You deserve every word. I tip my hat to you, sir :)

      • He definitely deserves every word. For each post I always check if mr. Schwartz commented on it or shared his delightful knowledge of the given country! Thanks to Sasha for opening up her life to the whole world, in fact. I haven’t been so affected by a blog, or should I say a wonderful family, for quite some time. Much love from Denmark

  3. How nice to get to meet one of your most faithful readers! The book gets rave reviews on Amazon, I may have to add this one to my wish list …

    • aunty eileen says:

      Well Brian… I will second what ‘Sally’ and ‘Mette’ wrote… it is true and well-deserved comments about you. Sasha and we readers have been blessed with your devoted presence and contribution to this wonderful blog…. you are a very nice and outstanding person!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Yes, it’s a fantastic read! I’m still early on, but he paints such a vivid picture.

  4. It’s nice to put a face to a name. I always enjoy Brian’s comments here as we’ll as his weekly contribution to the Tulsa Food blog.

  5. aunty eileen says:

    p.s. Brian: maybe you should send Hillary a copy of your book… wink, wink :-)

  6. Is there a possibility for this book to come out in Kindle format? I love Brian’s contributions to this blog, would love to read the book, but I live in very small quarters (RV) and just don’t have the space for “real” books.
    Say, Brian, if there is a Kindle possibility, you could even add the music to it!

  7. Neat…i’m smiling from ear to ear….
    How are you going to top this going forward with the rest of the blog??????????

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