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 atmosphere of love and encouragement. And, of course, I told her what I always tell our picky guests (including Mr Picky himself): 

1. If an entire country eats it, how bad can it be?

2. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t like it? That’s pretty small in the scheme of things. All you need is a little water to wash it away.

In brief?

She considered. She hemmed. She hawed. But eventually, she took three bites.

(And the crowd went wild!!!)

(Incidentally, Ava loved Emma, and wanted to be near this “big girl” as much as possible)

Meanwhile, Owen, Emma’s brother, went all for it. No hesitation. He’s what they call a “good eater.”

At the end of the day, both children succeeded on their quests, though I don’t believe they were on quite the same path.

Case in point: Do you think it is better to be a great eater when it comes easily, or an okay eater when it comes extremely hard?

And which are you?


Grilled Togo Chicken [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Grilled chicken legs are always nice, but they’re especially good with a hint of ginger and garlic. These Togo Chicken Legs were a huge hit among the kids and adults alike. I’ll definitely be making them again… maybe for a big barbecue sometime.

What I loved least about this dish:

Watch that your flame doesn’t get too hot, or you might char the chicken. Otherwise this recipe fairly foolproof and weeknight friendly. If find the flavors a bit subtle, try increasing the strength of the marinade by tossing in some extra garlic and ginger (but leave the oil the same, so you don’t make things too smoky).

Tomato Cornmeal Cakes | Djenkoume [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

If you have wiggly, wobbly children, perhaps the best thing to do is settle them down by making edible sandcastles from Togo. I really didn’t have high hopes for this one with the children, but they did great, even picky Emma. And I’d like to think that a big part of it was the fun, playful approach of seeing the Djenkoume as sandcastles.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing. I’m definitely making this again. No changes. Yum!


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