My sister’s good friend from high school lived in Africa for a number of years. She and I have reconnected a bit since this blog started and she went out of her way to bring us a fabulous recipe for this week. She gave us resources on how meals are shared in Senegal. One article from Food52 had a line that has stuck with me. “Here, wealth is measured not by how much you have but by how much you give.”
Everything about this is how I think we should all strive to live our lives. It can be so challenging to live into this mentality in a world so consumed by money and material things. It’s a continual quest, but each time we pause to reflect on this, hopefully it draws us back into a mindset that will move the world in a better direction.
We had some of our favorite foodie friends set to come over to cook with us and to eat around the bowl together. I was getting ready to make and chill thiakry for dessert when some waves of nausea hit. I decided to hold off on cooking until I felt a bit better. Much to my dismay, I did not start to feel better, instead I felt much much worse. I was watching three children under three and trying to prepare for a dinner party and pretty much all I could do was lay in the fetal position and make sure the children were alive. Needless to say I had to cancel dinner. I had the chicken marinating and I was seriously bummed. I was weak and shaky and I’ll spare you the gory details of how my night played out. But I can assure you the dinner party would have been a lot more fun.
Two days later I was feeling more like myself and we didn’t want the chicken to go to waste. After a solid 3 days of marinating we set out to make yassa poulet. We sadly didn’t get to commune with friends as we ate. We didn’t get to practice eating together in the beautiful way that Senegalese culture promotes. In Senegal eating together sounds like the best part of everyone’s day. The same Food52 article shared, “In Senegal, come lunchtime, everyone rushes home. It’s a moment we cherish and spend with friends and family. If you arrive at a Senegalese home at mealtime, whether you are expected or not, you will be invited to come share the meal. We believe that when food is shared, our bowl will remain plentiful.”
While we did miss out on some of our plans for gathering to eat ‘around the bowl’ we did get to taste the flavors and try to commit, as a family, to the hospitality that Senegalese homes extend. We want to be people who offer an open table to our friends and family. [Leave us a comment if you want to come over for one of these meal nights. We are doing our best to make more and more of these meals in good company and gather friends and family around our table!]
While the recipe only called for marinating the chicken overnight, I can attest to the fact that 70hrs of marinating will produce incredibly tender and flavorful chicken. The dish was tangy from olives, rich with a mustardy sauce, and wholly delicious. After a few days of crackers and gatorade, this meal brought me back to life. Colin and I ate the chicken over rice with a bit of sauce. Upon Micah’s insistence, he ate his yassa with leftover spaghetti sauce from our fridge…Let’s just say his tastes are…creative and a bit bold. He’s likes his melon with bbq sauce. Who knows, maybe someday he’ll own some exotic restaurant that creates his own world of flavors. I didn’t try eating from his bowl. Maybe it was the perfect combination. I’ll let you be the judge of whether you try it the Senegalese way or Micah’s way.
Hours after finishing our meal Colin came to me with a solemn look on his face and said, “well it isn’t good. I think it’s my turn for the stomach bug.” He must have been jealous of my date night with the bathroom and wanted one of his own. For the hours that we both felt good enough to make and eat this meal we were grateful. I’m grateful that Shannon shared the recipe and grateful to be nourished by such a delicious platter of food.
It probably goes against all food blogging rules to mix paragraphs about the stomach flu and then give you details about meals and recipes and expect you to want to try them. It’s fair to say that our impression of this meal was clouded, but I hope I didn’t cloud your view of how wonderful this dish is. Read the Food52 article, be hospitable, try the chicken and rice, and at all costs avoid the stomach flu.