Monday Meal Review: Tanzania


Moving Beyond Your Breaking Point

Summer sweat is a near constant, now. I haunt my house, barefoot, draped in loose flowing dresses, completely aimless thanks to this seasonal fever. It’s all I can do to stay awake when the temperatures hit the nineties and the humidity approaches 100%.

Eating Tanzania in this thick sort of summer heat was just perfect. All I had to do was close my eyes, and I was there. At least, I was there on the flatlands.

But I wasn’t where I really, really wanted to be.

Where I really wanted to be was Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania. Unlike the sizzling flatlands, Mount Kilimanjaro is covered with a perpetual blanket of snow. This epic mountain has fascinated me ever since I read about it in Michael Crichton’s book Travels. Have you read it? It is one of his least known books, but by-far my favorite because it covers Crichton’s globetrotting days.

Kilma'njaro, captured out the window of a flight from Dar es Salaam. Photo by Paul Schaffner.

Kilma’njaro, captured out the window of a flight from Dar es Salaam. Photo by Paul Schaffner.

In the book, Michael Crichton attempts to climb Kilimanjaro. He approaches the mountain with all the swagger and arrogance of someone who’s never faced a mountain of such magnitude. It is his arrogance that causes considerable damage to his feet and very nearly sends him back down, whimpering, before ever reaching the top.

To me, Kilimanjaro will always represent those challenges which  test us to the breaking point (especially when we aren’t exactly prepared for what we’re in for). I have to admit, cooking the world has had it’s daily challenges. There are moments when I want to throw in the towel. Hard. Just this week I drug myself through our Tanzanian dishes, despite running a pretty major fever… despite the fact that all I wanted to do was roll over and will the challenge to go away.

But something keeps me plodding along stubbornly. It’s the same thing that kept Michael Crichton going on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Sign at Uhuru Peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa. Photo by Arne D.

Sign at Uhuru Peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa. Photo by Arne D.

The promise of success… of that glorious view just waiting a few more miles up the trail. And there’s something more… that simple act of looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. Because… once you’re most of the way up the mountainside, how can you possibly go back?

Friends, we’re more than halfway up the mountainside. In anticipation of the summit, I wanted to bring this adventure to a conclusion in a BIG, BIG way.  Sort of like the glorious view from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro… I want to create a vista worth attaining… and guess what?

You’re invited. 



Mashed Potatoes with Veggies | Irio [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Irio is a weeknight dinner dream. I’m able to serve Ava all her veggies in one go, and then just fill in with protein on the side. This will absolutely be in our regular rotation – it’s too simple and delicious not to! Plus Ava loved being a “big girl” and mashing everything together. Fun!

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing. The whole family loved it.

Greens with veggies & Peanuts | Kisamvu [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

The faint nuttiness and hint of coconut makes for a wonderful departure for spinach, especially when coupled with bright bursts of sauteed veggies. I can easily see why my neighbor craves Kisamvu after every trip to Tanzania.

What I loved least about this dish:

Cleaning and chopping all that spinach takes a little time. Unless you have some friends to chatter with, you might consider using thawed frozen spinach (finely chopped) to make this an option for a weeknight side dish.


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