Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa”

"The Soul of A New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson in gracefully introduced by Desmond Tutu and enhanced by photographs by Gediyond Kifle. Just think! 200 recipies from all over the continent, with insightful commentary completing our pleasure.

Here's what Samuelsson says about "Palaver Sauce": [In West Africa] meals tend to be based on starches--rice, grains, couscous, root vegetables--served with a little bit of sauce or a stew for flavor. One of the most popular sauces is palaver sauce, a stew made of greens with a little bit of meat, usuallly served over rice or couscous. In West Africa, it would be made with fresh pumpkin leaves and enormous amounts of red palm oil, but I've adapted it.... Just why the dish is named plalaver--meaning a long-winded debate or quarrel--is unclear, but one colorful local legend claims that the first palaver sauces were made from greens with long, ropy stems, and as people stood around the pot ladling out their portions, they tended to inadvertantly hit the next person in line with one of the stems, resulting in a squabble. My version calls for chopped spinach, eliminating the danger of hitting the person seated next to you, but the name remains the same." (p.190)


2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium Spanish onion, finely diced
2 bird's-eye chilies, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced merguez sausage or Spanish-style chorizo
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped spinach
1 kipper, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

Directions for 4 servings: Heat the peanut oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the oniion, chilies, sausage, and garlic and saute until the onion is softened and the garlicis golden, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, kipper, and lemon juice and stir well. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit until the spinach wilts, about 1 1/2 minutes.

From the book jacket: For as long as I can remember, I've had Africa on my mind.
"Award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson may be best known for his innovative take on Scandinavian cuisine at New York's Restaurant Aquavit, but his story begins thousands of miles away, in Africa. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden by adoptive parents, his life transcends national boundaries, and his individual approach to cuisine is a global, yet personal one that draws freely from many ethnic and culural influences."

Truly Marcus became a citizen of the world, yet never let his heart leave home.

2 Responses »

  1. When we arrived in Jos, Nigeria, in 1980, I was heavily into edible wild plants of the Arid Southwestern US and my book American Indian Food and Lore had been out a couple of years. Among the plants I wrote about was amaranth, a wild leafy green. Imagine my surprise to find it in the Jos market -- called "spinach" in English. Don't know what they called it in the various native languages.

  2. The Batswana people in Southern Africa call it "morogo"

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