Not far from Victoria Falls in Zambia on the African sub-continent is an authentic village where, a few years ago, I had the occasion to spend the night. The visit included a very comfortable bed and bath with dinner and breakfast. The villagers ate together every night with the men in one circle, sitting on the floor and the women in another. Children were fed separately before the adults met.
The women discussed the issues of the day and when one needed advice about a problem she had with her husband, they all had words of wisdom. Afterwards, they told me the men have the same types of conversations.
There were no utensils. All food was eaten by hand as the Africans feel the taste is better. That includes mashed yams, a staple found in most African countries. We also had cassava, a spinach-like vegetable and a goat stew. Because everyone today is working to preserve wildlife, there is seldom any game at African meals unless it is a domesticated animal. That includes items such as ostrich, gazelle, to name a few.
After dinner, we all joined hands in a circle and danced. There we were on a cliff high over the awesome falls bonding together. It was beautiful. Neighbors can’t hold grudges for long in this environment.
It hasn’t been too long ago that Africans ate what they referred to as “mealies.” This was basically mush – cornmeal boiled with cow’s milk or water. Americans on safari were treated to the most amazing meals while their helpers and guides would not touch these repasts. Today, goat is very much on everyone’s menu and it is prepared many different ways. The following is a recipe for goat stew, a native African favorite, made with ingredients found in just about every local supermarket.
1 cup olive oil
1 lb goat meat
3 carrots, sliced 1” thick
1 celery stalk, sliced 1” thick
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 Yukon gold potatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
Put 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a pan. Season the goat meat with salt and pepper, then sear. Put in slow cooker. Add the rest of the olive oil along with sweet carrots, celery and onion, cooking till soft. Follow with potatoes, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and water. Turn slow cooker on high and simmer for 8 hours.
Yield: 8 portions.
Serve with warm flatbread and accompany with chilled beer.
Although it’s not strictly necessary, you may want to join hands with your guests and dance. Picturesque cliff setting is optional.
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