Monday Meal Review: Burkina Faso

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"The smell is making my eyes water. One bite, and I can't get the flavor out of my mouth! It's like I'm still eating it. That counts, right?" Keith looked at me with his best puppy dog eyes. And, since his eyes are hazel, he didn't look much like a puppy. "Just eat half of it," I said. "I can't," he replied, turning his plate so the Babenda was as far away as possible. I kept eating, thinking about how fishy the Babenda tasted. Maybe he would eat some more of the unusual West … [Read more...]

Recipe: Iced Hibiscus Drink with Fresh Pineapple (Bissap a la Bonne Dame)

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Makes 1.75 liters (plus the pineapple) Chilled hibiscus tea is light and refreshing. The natural floral tang is a wonderful counterpart to sweet pineapple chunks. Kids will love fishing out the fruit in this totally and wonderfully decaffeinated iced tea. VARIATION: Some recipes call for equal parts lemonade to hibiscus tea. We tried this "pink lemonade" and loved it! Ingredients: small handful hibiscus flowers (or 4 teabags) 6 cups boiling water 4 cups ice 1 pineapple, … [Read more...]

Recipe: Spiced Peanut Powder (Kan Kan Kan)

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Makes about 1/2 cup This is my own version of the jarred Kan Kan Kan spice blend popular in Burkina Faso. The raw peanut powder offers a slight grassy flavor, dominated by heat from the chili powder and saltiness from the bouillon. Try with our Grilled Lamb Brochettes. While the jarred stuff alleges to be an aphrodisiac, I happened upon the description of this spice blend on an expat blog which - unfortunately -I can no longer track down. I mixed it together to taste. If you want the … [Read more...]

Recipe: Babenda

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If you enjoy the flavor of funky blue cheese, dried or smoked fish, and bitter greens, then Babenda is for you! I know. I'm asking a lot. Although we might be a select group of people with such accommodating palates, this one pot meal is a common staple in Burkina Faso. Babenda is like a jazz orchestra in the mouth, making wild taste sensations and pungent high notes meander whimsically through mouth and home. Ingredient Overview: The Greens: Any bitter greens can be used for … [Read more...]

Menu: Burkina Faso

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One day of 100+ degree weather is bad enough. My thermostat showed 105 twice in the last three days. Heck, it was 100F before noon yesterday! This is a summer heat blizzard of epic proportions. The worst part? You can't shovel it away. In light of our heat wave, I put together a Burkinabe menu that can be made without much indoor heat. The kabobs are perfect for the grill, the Kan Kan Kan requires no cooking (hurrah), and the hibiscus tea is steeped in a bit of boiling water and then chilled … [Read more...]

About the Food of Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso is a dizzying landscape of dusty red plains and grassy savannas, broken up by stunning rock formations that tower above the ground. The culinary landscape of Burkina Faso is similar - plain, sparse even - with the occasional burst of unexpected flavor. Let me explain. Most meals are centered around pieces of Tô, a firm ball of white starch made with millet, sorghum, or corn. These bland balls are wonderfully adaptive because they take on the flavor the broths, soups, and … [Read more...]

Monday Meal Review: Bulgaria

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"Where's the beef?" said Keith's dad, wide eyed. In all his sixty-plus years on earth, this was probably his first vegetarian meal. Ever. What can I say. He's Oklahoma, through and through. Six months ago, I would have been nervous about putting this feast in front of him. I'd probably have served a platter beef on the side. Heck, I who am I kidding. The entire meal would have been a meat-lover's delight. I'm a people-pleaser, to the max. But eating food around the world has changed … [Read more...]

Recipe: Roasted Eggplant & Bell Pepper Dip (Kyopolou)

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Serves 4-6 Kyopolou melds roasted, sweet peppers, eggplant, and ripe tomatoes to make a dipping sensation. Serve with pita bread or alongside white fish. Be sure to prepare a day ahead (or at least several hours) so that the flavors can properly distribute. Otherwise the garlic will be too sharp and bitter. If you simply must serve this dish right away, use less garlic. Ingredients: 3 eggplants 4 red bell peppers 3 tomatoes (I used roma) 2-5 cloves garlic fresh parsley, … [Read more...]