As human migration occurs, food items and recipes travel as well. As migrating populations mingle, so do the flavors of the various home lands. Although today’s dish is native to one country, it is a perfect example of staple items that have migrated.
Tonight’s meal will be a fusion of both Western Africa as the region of origin and Southern United States, where settlement of slave populations in the early part of US history brought with it many traditional dishes that are made today either in their early forms or in updated and altered forms to account for local produce. The dish is Succotash. The original country that we visit today is Equatorial Guinea.
To get there from El Salvador we sail back to the Panama Canal and east across the Atlantic. When we reach the Cape Verde Islands we chart southward to the coast of Central Africa and the Gulf Of Guinea; a coastline that includes many African nations.
Equatorial Guinea is located between the far larger Cameroon and Gabon. Spanish is the official language of EG. Equatorial Guinea is one of the smallest nations in Africa by size. It is also one of the smallest by population with just over 1 million citizens.
EG is one of the wealthiest nations in Africa. However, that wealth is consolidated into the hands of the elite. Oil and other natural resources account for the overall ranking of 31st in global economic development.
Still 70% of the population lives under the international poverty line. Today EG is making strides to increase transparency in resource development reporting and to improve the economic conditions of its population.
As with many nations with high poverty, subsistence diets account for much of the food consumed. As such, frequently those same subsistence meals become the meals that people identify as “national” cuisine.
This term “National Dish” is therefore used loosely as mentioned in the thesis of this blog. It does not always denote a dish that everyone loves or is proud of, but more often than not, a dish that has kept millions of families from starving in challenging economic times. Fufu, rice and beans and other dishes would fall into this category. Basically a dish that provides simple wholesome nutrition to sustain the diet of a population that frequently cannot afford more expensive ingredients in every meal.
Succotash is such a dish. Made of Corn and Lima beans stewed in tomatoes, succotash is a hearty protein and starch sufficient “meal-in-one” or single pot dish. This dish is found in many parts of Africa and has also migrated to areas with large populations of ex-patriated (many against their will) Western African people.
It is made throughout the Southern US for instance and is considered a respectable part of Southern Cuisine alongside classics like Fried Chicken, Hoppin’ John and Pickled Vegetables, of which many dishes find their roots in Western Africa. Whereas it might be considered a side dish in the US, it would frequently be a main course in areas of poverty. It’s nutritious and flavorful nature make it a favorite and national dish in Equatorial Guinea. ”Beans and grains have a symbiotic relationship in which the amino acids of each complement one another in such way as to form a complete protein, which is the foundation for the growth and development of many life forms, including humans.”*
For tonight’s meal, we are serving the Succotash as a side dish and accompaniment to a popular Southern US protein selection. Bone in Center Cut Pork Rib Chops with a dry rub of Annato and other seasonings with Portobello and Toasted Pine Nut Cous Cous (Cous Cous is another African staple) . I am including recipes for the Cous Cous as well although it is more frequently found in Northern Africa and Morroco in particular. The Cous Cous recipe is my own.
On a side note, when I was preparing the Succotash, I happened to glance over at my counter top and saw the sun shining into the bag of vine ripe tomatoes I had just purchased. I g rabbed the camera and this was the result. It is better than the shot of the Succotash!
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Appearance: 3 out of 5
Aroma: 3 out of 5
Flavor: 5 out of 5
Total: 11 out of 15
1 cup butter, divided
2 cups fresh lima beans
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons white sugar
4 ears fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob
Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in lima beans and salt, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan heat tomatoes, sugar and remaining 1/2 cup butter. Cook until tomatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Stir tomatoes into lima beans and add corn; cook 10 minutes more.
Cous Cous with Portobello Mushrooms and Toasted Pignolias (Pine Nuts)
2 cups Iraeli Cous Cous, AKA Cous Cous Pearls
1 cup diced Portobello mushrooms
½ cup toasted Pignolias
Chicken Stock or Water (Check Cous Cous package for amounts)
Dash of Salt
1 clove garlic
½ cup minced shallots
1-2 tablespoons butter or Olive Oil
In a large frying pan or a Tagine bring the butter or oil to high heat. Sauté the shallots for 3-5 minutes till softened and transluscent.
Add minced clove of garlic to the pan and fry an additional 30 seconds to release the garlic oil.
Add portobellos and cook for 1-2 minutes till they begin to soften
Add water or stock and bring to a boil
Add cous cous and toasted pine nuts and cook according to cous cous instructions
Allow to sit off heat for 2-5 minutes after cooking.
Serve hot. Serves 6-8
*Source for nutrition information: http://www.foodreference.com/html/artbeans.html
A special thanks to @GreenMarketGirl for the beautiful wooden platter in the photo above! For more info and to purchase this platter or her signature ECOcuff reclaimed wooden bracelets/cuffs, visit: http://greenmarketgirl.com/, all products made from 100% reclaimed/recycled wood scraps!