This meal looked very promising. Relatively simple recipes, tasty ingredients, and reports of delicious, rich flavors in this region’s food. We added a few more new ingredients to our pantry… such as palm oil, cassava flour, and okra (we had both eaten okra once before and had fairly neutral opinions of it). We also finally made a trip to the new international grocery store in town, which was fun. We will definitely be stopping back there for future unique and hard to find ingredients.
Calulu de Pixe (Fish in palm oil)
This recipe looked so good. I was excited to make it, although I was a little worried it would be too spicy. In the end, I think it was slightly overcooked since it took so long to make the funge, and the flavors were just okay. It wasn’t spicy at all, and we were already using more pepper than recommended (since we scaled the recipe we should have used just 1/2 of a pepper). If we made this again, I would use 4 or 5 of the Thai peppers. I would also scale back the water. The recipe didn’t say how much water to add, so we guessed. Not much of the water boiled off, and the finished product was a lot more liquidy than I think it should have been.
This dish was not successful. The consistency did not look anything like the photos and videos I have seen. It was chunky instead of smooth (should have sifted the flour in gradually). It was also pretty much flavorless, which I expected. I had read that even though it doesn’t have much flavor, it absorbs the other flavors from the dish and balances out the spicy food of this region. We made a second attempt to prepare funge with leftovers the next day, and it turned out closer to the desired consistency, and it actually thickened when I put it in the microwave with the Calulu de Pixe, but it still didn’t do much for me. Maybe we just didn’t do a good job preparing this dish… or perhaps it just an acquired taste (and texture).
Mamao com Vinho de Porto (Papaya with port wine)
This was the shining star of the meal!!! I didn’t have much experience with papaya, and I’m not a big fan of lime, but this was really good. I was amazed at how well these three flavors compliment each other. I would definitely eat this again.
Overall, we didn’t feel we did this meal or this country justice. So far we have not had great luck with African main courses, so hopefully our next trip to Africa (I think this will be Benin) will be more successful. Fortunately, ending with the delicious papaya partially made up for the flop of a main course.
Next we will be hopping across the Atlantic to Antigua and Barbuda!