Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Rumble in the Jungle

Thirty-four years ago an epic boxing match took place in the Mai 20 Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire. The heavyweight champion George Foreman took on the former world champion and challenger Muhammad Ali. Ali won becoming only the second former champion to reclaim the heavyweight crown.

Much has changed since then. Ali stopped boxing, and his daughter took over. George Foreman is selling cookware and Zaire is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has a "colourful" history. It is the third largest country on our dark continent. The Belgiums laid claim to it, as it obviously did not belong to anyone prior to their arrival. It supplied the uranium which was used to build the atomic weapons that were dropped in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

While the name might seem very inspired, democracy has not always been it's strong point. Joseph-Désiré Mobutu took power, with the help of the Americans, in a military coup in 1965. He would periodically hold elections in which he was the only candidate, which was easy after he introduced the one party system!

After the end of the cold war, the Americans no longer feared the red under the bed, so the Congo was left to sort out it's political situation. After many years and wars things have reached a delicate "truce". But many years of political unrest has resulted in many of it's citizens leaving to seek their fortunes all around the world.

Right, now to the point. I am sure you all lost interest about 4 paragraphs back, but I wanted to give you the history to a people, whom I'm sure many of you meet on a daily basis. They are the polite, smiling faces, who greet you with a beautiful French accent. If you have never seen one, find a shelter for displaced people and you will find beautifully dressed, clean and God fearing people.

Last nights supper was dedicated to them. I prepared 2 dishes which are extremely popular in the DRC.

Dongo Dongo (Okra)

Oil for frying
Two onions finely chopped
One hot chilli finely chopped
Twenty okra, ends removed, cleaned, and chopped (remember that the more it is cut, the slimier it becomes)
Two minced cloves of Garlic
1 chicken stock cube
One can Tomato paste
½ teaspoon Sugar

Fry the onions and the chilli.
Add the rest of ingredients and a little water.
Cook until the okra is soft.
Serve as a side dish.

The second dish was a spinach dish made with peanut butter. It is a wonderful combination of nuttiness and salt. The peanut flavour becomes milder, so don't worry about it tasting like a peanut butter sandwich.

Spinach and Peanut Sauce

1 Large bunch of Swiss Chard. Remove the stalks and chop finely.
1 cup of Water
½ cup of Peanut Butter
Lots of Salt

Cook the spinach in the water until soft.
Add the peanut butter and salt and reduce the liquid until you have a thick sauce
Serve hot.


Jeanne said...

Such an interesting post! It always used to bewilder me when people here would ask "so you cook with a lot of peanuts in South Africa, don't you?". Ummm, not unless you mean Black Cat peanut butter! Clearly they were confusing us with out far northern neighbours!

Rose&Thorn said...

Jeanne - It is amazing that people don't realize just how big Africa is and how different the food is.

Jaime said...

this looks really good. i love trying foods from other cultures

Rose&Thorn said...

Jaime - It's a culinary adventure!

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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