All posts filed under: Togo

togo.food.recipe.img_1133

Monday Meal Review: Togo

“How many bites do I have to take?” “Do they have to be big bites?”  “Does this count as a big bite?” The questions kept coming from Miss Emma, one of the most picky eaters to grace our Global Table. She showed us her spoon, topped with Djenkoume (a.k.a. cornmeal cakes). This is what her big bite looked like: Thus far. Emma has spent the majority of her childhood “losing her lunch” when faced with new textures and flavors.  She couldn’t keep mash potatoes down until she was five… hers isn’t your ordinary finickiness. We were on very tenuous ground. I wanted to keep my furniture and rugs clean It was hard for me to relate to what Emma goes through when faced with new foods. Only rarely have I been physically affected by the thought of trying something new. There’s old Togolese proverb which reads: “It is impossible to go and look into the stomach of another.” How true. Even though I couldn’t put myself in Emma’s shoes, I was able to create an …

togo.food.recipe.img_9978

Grilled Togo Chicken

  What brings a smile to your face? The sunshine? The taste of the ocean? What about security… that lovely feeling, when you know you can feed your family, without depending on someone else. Mrs. Essowedeou, from Togo, agrees. “I never knew how chickens could bring a smile to our faces,” she says. Mrs. Essowedeou raises chickens as part of the “Plan Togo” program.   These chickens are her smile because they are her (and her family’s) ticket to security. Independence. Food. She sells the chickens and the eggs to raise money for her family. This week, let’s smile with Togo in our hearts. And, in Kpetou’s honor, let’s do it with chicken. Because, sometimes, it’s that simple. Chicken recipes are plentiful in Togo, but Grilled Togo Chicken is probably the simplest, most straight forward way to enjoy the meat. All you need to do is marinate your favorite cut of chicken with ginger, garlic, and onion. Use a dash of cayenne if you’re feeling spicy, and be sure to rub on a hit of …

togo.food.recipe.img_0001

Tomato Cornmeal Cakes | Djenkoume

Even grownups need to build sandcastles from time to time. The urge comes from deep within our hearts – some far away love for fantasy, perhaps formed in childhood. Today, we’re listening to our inner child; we’re making edible sandcastles… from Togo. At least, that’s what I’m calling them. If you want to be a serious adult, you can call them cornmeal cakes. In Togo, corn is everything, ever. Sometimes it is served as porridge. And sometimes it’s served as Djenkoume, a.k.a. cornmeal cakes, a.k.a. edible sand castles. Djenkoume is a cornmeal, tomato, and red palm oil corn cake, rather like polenta. But there’s so much more about the dish… there’s onion, garlic, and ginger in the mix.  And a mound of homemade, spiced tomato sauce. Hello. How could that not be wonderful? Friends, sometimes, I wonder if I’m really going to be able to find a dish I like in every country in the world. So far, I’ve had 100% success rate, and it’s not just because I’m fairly open minded.  It’s also because there …

togo-menu

Menu: Togo

The last three people I’ve told that I’m cooking Togo have asked me what kind of food Togo is, not realizing Togo is a small west African country. So, friends, let’s learn together. Let’s put the Togolese spirit on our tables… along with a bit of their food. We’ll get to the menu we selected in a moment. First, let’s discuss the ‘spirit’ part of the meal. This week, I sought out some inspirational words from Togo. I had no choice. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. For starters, I’ll be speaking in front of 3,000 people at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. No biggie (total biggie!!).  Second, I’m about to turn in the next 1/3 of my memoir (I foresee a few all-nighters to finish the pages up). Third, my daughter is about to turn four (when on earth did that happen?). Fourth, I’m about to celebrate my fifth year of marriage (seriously, where has the time gone?). Fifth, I just spent the weekend visiting with my BFF from high school. It’s been …

Local house in the Taberma Valley in Togo. The whole area is deignated a UNESCO Heritage Site. Photo by Erik Kristensen.

About the food of Togo

There’s an old Togolese proverb which says “Do not  roast all your corn in the winter.”  The proverb sums up Togo nicely. While the words point to importance placed on resourcefulness in this small, west African country, it also points to something much more obvious. The Togolese love their corn. As with most proverbs, they draw from the popular culture from whence they originate. This skinny strip of a country in western Africa really does love their corn, especially cornmeal. Cornmeal cakes called Djenkoume are a popular staple, as is fufu (stiff cornmeal porridge, although sometimes it is made with yam). Either might be served with chicken [like Grilled Togo Chicken], goat, or wild game. What does a Togolese person do when they tire of cornmeal? Eat cassava.  It can be savory, on the side of goat stew, or an after dinner treat, served as a soft, sweet porridge. From the dry savannas and tropical coast, this land also loves their peanuts. In fact, groundnut stew [Recipe] (an old favorite from our Ghanaian Global Table), makes …