Food is a powerful element of material culture that links tradition, taste, customs, and memories from one generation to the next.
So, tell us about a favorite dish that is a tradition in your family:
What memories do you associate with it:
African ritual dances
Boating (catching the fish from the ocean)
A meal with poet, socialist, politician, culture theorist, first president of Senegal and founder of Senegalese Democratic Bloc party, before holding a seat as a monarch and being endorsed before journeying to America to bridge the gap.
Give us a social history of the dish:
Thieboudienne, or ceebu jën in Wolof (the language spoken in Senegal, in The Gambia and Mauritania), which literally means “rice and fish”. … According to the legend, thieboudienne was created, or at least made famous in its current form by a renowned cook of the nineteenth century named Penda Mbaye.
1 1/2 cups rice broken rice
4 Large pieces white fish snapper or grouper
3 tomatoes mashed
3 Ttablespoons tomato paste
1 bunch parsley crushed
1 large Carrot peeled and cut into medium pieces
1 sweet potato peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves garlic finely chopped (divided)
1 small eggplant sliced
1 small cabbage cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 Maggi cubes
4 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon nététou
2 Tablespoons smoked fish shredded or ground
2 habanero peppers de-seeded and diced.
1 Tablespoon black pepper
salt to taste
6 cups hot water
Prepare the stuffing or puree/marinade for fish :
In a food processor or mortar and pestle blend or crush the parsley, half the garlic, 1 Maggi cube, plus a little salt and pepper to taste and a spoon of oil.
Cut slits if in the flesh of the fish and stuff the puree inside or slather the fillets with the puree and refrigerate for a couple of hours. (Reserve leftover puree)
Make the tomato sauce.
Heat the oil to medium high and add the onions , tomatoes, tomato paste , the black pepper and remaining garlic. Then fry for 15 minutes.
Add the stuffed or marinated fish into the tomato sauce.
Add the Maggi cube, bay leaves, nététou, smoked fish, habaneros and 1 cup of water.
Simmer until the fish pieces are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Remove the fish and add vegetables
Remove the fish pieces and add all the vegetables except okra with 1 cup of water and cook the vegetables until they are cooked approximately 25-30 minutes.
You must ensure that the vegetables are tender before removing them, but take care to not overcook them.
Then remove the vegetables and add the okra with water. Cook for 5 minutes more than remove the okra
Cooking the Rice
Cook the rice over low heat, stir often and cook until tender.
When the rice is cooked well its ready for serving. place the rice on a nice dish and arrange the vegetables and fish on top.
What do I mean by social history? Well, if your favorite recipe is Mee Maw’s chicken pie, tell us something about what it means to your family. When did you eat it? On Sundays after church? At family reunions? Interview people in your family to learn about the recipe. Exercise your sociological imagination; describe how the dish fits into the broader social history of your family. Maybe your favorite treats are the Italian cookies your family ate on special occasions. Those cookies could be a tangible link to your family’s history in this country and the old one. When did your family come here? What social forces drove their immigration?
This is an exercise in exploring material culture and what foodways tell us about shared identity. So post your recipe along with the fruits of your research.