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Celebrating African Culture through Food
By Keisha Saul

Demonstrating the diversity and rich culture of African countries across the continent, the African Day Parade was a showcase of cultural groups, dance, people, arts and crafts, artists, music, and best of all, food. Devout to the four pillars of life support, which include motion, reduction of stress, staying connected and the most important- nutrition, the Parade unmasked food from all over Africa for Harlem to see, and better yet, taste.

A popular entre in many Ghanaian households, Fufu, is a dish made from foods like cassava, plantain, yam, and rice. It involves a traditional pounding in a wooden mortar and pestle. The dish has been adapted to fit the cultural delicacies of many countries – including Guyana and Brazil in South America, and the island of Barbados in the Caribbean.
Another popular dish is the Senegalese rice and fish stew. The name speaks for itself, but this dish also incorporates the unique flavor of eggplants, a popular favorite, okra, sweet potatoes, and carrots to make an enticing, mouth watering favorite.
The smell of Mama’s food as she laid it out on the table is something we can all favor – the taste of her food, however, may still make our mouths water. But there is nothing like furthering the tradition by bringing these recipes into our own kitchens:

Fufu:
Ingredients: 2 ½ cups Bisquick
2 ½ cups instant potato flakes
½ teaspoon salt

Method:
Bring 6 cups of water to a rapid boil in a large, heavy pot. Combine the two ingredients and add to the water. Stir constantly for 10-15 minutes -- a process that usually needs two people for best results: one to hold the pot while the other stirs vigorously with a strong implement (such as a thick wooden spoon). The mixture will become very thick and difficult to stir, but unless you are both vigilant and energetic, you'll get a lumpy mess.

When the Fufu s ready, dump about a cup of the mixture into a wet bowl and shake until it forms itself into a smooth ball. Serve on a large platter alongside a soup or stew.

Rice and Fish stew:
Ingredients:
• 3 lb sea bass tail
• 2 lb broken rice
• ½ lb pound calabreze
• ½ lb sweet cassava
• 9 cups cold water
• 1x6 ounce can tomato paste
• 3” piece smoked fish (any firm white will do)
• 12 small okra pods
• 5 small purple turnips
• 5 carrots
• 4 sweet potatoes
• 2 large onions
• 2 scallions
• 2 small eggplants
• 2 large cloves garlic
• 1 small green cabbage
• 1 bunch parsley
• 1 fresh bird chili
• 1 habanero chili
• 4 Tbsp peanut oil
• 1 tsp salt

Method:
Dissolve the salt into the water. Dice the cassava and calabreze into one inch thick slices. Prepare the okra, making sure there are no hard pods. Dice both the carrots and eggplants into 1 inch pieces. Cut the cabbage, and mince the onions.
Prepare the sea bass by cleaning and cut into 1 ½ inch thick steaks, score the steaks with a sharp knife. Prepare the stuffing for the sea bass steaks by placing the parsley, garlic, bird chili and scallions in a food processor and pulsing until they form a thick paste. When paste is ready, begin stuffing.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot and brown the onion. Add the smoked fish, tomato paste and ¼ cup of the salted water. When the onion has browned, place the sea bass in the pot with the onion mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining water. Bring to the boil, cover and lower the heat. Add vegetables and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the sea bass steaks, keeping them whole, and place them on a serving platter. Cover with a little of the cooking liquid and keep warm. Cook remaining ingredients for a further 15 minutes, thereafter removing the vegetables and arranging them on a platter. Keep warm.
Reserve 2 cups of the liquid to make the sauces. Bring the remaining liquid to the boil, add the rice, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is done.
Eat and enjoy!

Parts of recipe courtesy of Africhef.com

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