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Copyright 2000
by Phillip Martin
All rights reserved.
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In Liberia, everything was cooked with red palm oil, Maggi chicken bullion cubes, and an incredible amount of hot red pepper.  It wasn't just hot, it made tears well up in your eyes and stream down your cheeks until you acquired a taste for it.  I loved it immediately . . . well, half of it.

The two main foods prepared in Liberia were cassava and rice.  There are so many ways to prepare cassava.  It can be boiled, grilled, baked, grated into a cereal, fried, pounded, and even eaten raw.  I didn't like any of them and it didn't take long to vow I'd never allow it to enter my kitchen door.  Fortunately, I loved what Liberians did with rice.  A wide variety of soups were prepared to serve on top of mountains of rice.  The recipes I include here are some of my favorites that my friends made for me whenever I invited them to my house.  That was the deal; they had a good meal, but they had to show me how to prepare it.  In addition to Cassava Leaves Soup, Beans Gravy Soup, Pumpkin Soup, and Jollof Rice, there are some other recipes located on my Links page.  I was able to find all the needed ingredients in Ohio at a Korean Grocery.  If I can manage that, so can you. 

Preparation for a meal was no small task.  There were no microwaves or fast food restaurants.  It took three hours to prepare a meal.   The rice had to be pounded in a mortar (as seen in the above cartoon) and then a fanner basket was used to separate the grain from the chaff.  Meals were cooked over a coal pot, sort of like a hibachi, with charcoal.  Frequently I  was ready to leave the home of a friend when he insisted I stay for dinner.  It was a test of patience when I realized none of the preparations had yet begun.   However, I had parents who insisted on manners and the food was always good -- if it wasn't cassava.