Monday, September 26, 2011

Central African Republic

Location: Central Africa (shockingly)
Area: Over 620,000 sq km; 45th largest in the world
         Slightly smaller than Texas
Geography: Landlocked
Population: Almost 5 million; 117th largest in the world
Capital: Bangui
Infant Mortality Rate: 99 deaths/1000 live births; 7th highest in the world
Official Language: French
Constitution: Ratified in 2004
Trafficking: "...source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forces labor and sexual exploitation."  (
Poverty: Considered one of the poorest countries in the world
Human Development Index: Ranked 179/182 countries with data
Source: CIA Factbook

And thus begins our second African country in a row.  And we are not over yet.

The national dish of the Central African Republic is Cassava.  "But cassava is not a dish!" you say.  If you didn't that's okay.  I didn't actually say that either.  Cassava is an shrub, the root of which is eaten.  So what should I do with it?

There were a lot of options out there, including making chips (American, not British).  The one that I ended up deciding on was Fufu, obviously going with the Central African variation.  It looked fairly simple and would be a good way to truly taste the cassava.

That does not a meal make, however!  Almost every recipe I found was very heavy in peanuts, and we know how that worked out last time...  Except there was one.  I got Kevin to agree, and we were into new territory.  Chichinga, or skewered goat.

Finding goat would not be an issue, as I have seen plenty of it sold at the local Middle Eastern places.  I had to go to the giant international store for other reasons, so I looked there.  The first thing I learned was that cassava was also called manioc or yuca.  Not yucca.  It took a few trips around the produce section to get the right thing.

Second, I learned about the crazy stuff you can get in the meat section.  Black chickens.  Pig uteri.  Uteri!  However, goat was actually pretty sparse.  They had one kind, and it was quite smartly labeled.
So fast forward about two weeks until the day I am ready to make this food.  Tesla and I were a little worn out after watching the ND - MSU game.
But we pressed on.  I went to go start the cassava.  Uh-oh.  It had gone bad!  There was some mold and it was a little squishy and...eww.  I was disappointed, but had to go on.

In retrospect, this may have been a good thing.  I quote Wikipedia:
Improper preparation of cassava can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication and goiters, and has been linked to ataxia or partial paralysis
Oh boy.  Thank you for going bad.  Paralysis was not on my list.

But I still had my goat!  I have eaten it before at Indian restaurants, but Kevin was new to it.  The instructions were, for once, fairly straightforward and simple to follow.  I cut out the tomatoes and onions because frankly, we weren't going to eat them.  I also approximated the amounts for the other ingredients.  You give me full disclosure and then I don't listen anyway...
There were bones and a lot of fat.  I don't think this was the greatest goat to use.
The proof that Kevin helped.  I promise we don't make the broccoli every day.
Better settings on the camera this time.  Woo!

Pimenton is paprika, by the way.
And then you cook it!  Apparently, the only thing not on here is the temperature of the oven.  We went with broil, I believe.
Short, sweet, and to the point.  Kevin even looked up the temperature goat is fully cooked at.  Isn't the internet amazing?
Once again, there was football on, so we ate in the living room.  This may be a theme throughout fall.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of this meal?  Pleasantly surprised.  For being so simple and quick, it was quite good.  The meat had enough flavor that it didn't necessarily need a ton of extra spices.  Was it perfect or ideal?  No, but it was certainly a good base.

Kevin said the goat reminded him of antelope.  Who can't relate to that, right?  It was a little gamey, but otherwise you couldn't tell it was "exotic."  I think a better cut would have helped, but overall well done Central African Republic.

Originally when I mentioned Cape Verde, Kevin only knew one thing about it: hurricanes.  Apparently there are hurricanes classified as Cape Verde ones since that is where they originate.  Therefore, Kevin wanted to drink some hurricanes to celebrate.  We didn't do it last week, so we made up for it this time.

We went with this recipe. Upper left-hand corner.  I misread it at the store and didn't buy all of the right stuff.  We made it work.
The Cruzan is from our honeymoon, and we already had the Svedka and amaretto.  Everything else was purchased for this blog.
The mini-Cruzans we snuck onto our cruise ship.
We were missing the pineapple juice, so we used orange juice and replaced one of the rums with a citrus flavored one.

Expert bartender.

Tesla inspected the alcohol.
To quote Kevin: "It takes like New Orleans."  I haven't been there, so I wouldn't know.  It kinda reminded me of the college let's-mix-everything-we-have drink.  Not terrible, but not the best.  Better ingredients may have helped.

Next: Chad

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