liberia_cooking_pix1.jpg (13399 bytes)

Coal Pot Cooking

liberia_cooking_pix2.jpg (7493 bytes)

Close up of fish and beans

liberia_cooking_pix3.jpg (17959 bytes)

Bug-a-bug anyone?

liberia_cooking_pix4.jpg (18489 bytes)

Cassava Leaves

COOKING   ...........  Do not be deceived by the photograph.  I did very little cooking while in Liberia.  However, I did learn to bake a mean chocolate cake on the coal pot.  Once one of my friends gave me the leg of an endangered animal to cook.   I told him I didn't know how to cook meat that still had fur and a hoof.  I only cooked meat that came wrapped in plastic.  So, he took it back and invited me over to his home for beans gravy. 

Most meals were eaten at the Cool Cabin cook shop.   It was cheap and delicious.  And, it was the daily social gathering spot for the expat community.  (Not to be confused with the nightly watering hole.)

There were times when I invited people over to my house.  Usually my guests were Liberians.  I loved inviting them over.  I provided all the ingredients and they did the cooking for me.  I never would have learned any Liberian recipes if it were not for Albert Quayee's lessons.  He taught me to make Cassava Leaves, Pumpkin Soup, and Beans Gravy.  If I didn't have Liberian guests, I had the Japanese volunteers over.  The things they could do with Liberian food!

One time almost all of the volunteers were out of town and I was left in Zwedru.  That was so very unusual.  One of the Brits described me as a "born again volunteer".  I had all of the Peace Corps house helpers over to cook a meal.  It was a fun evening.

It was important to have protein in your diet so I ate a lot of beans.  There were other ways to get protein, like eating fried termites called bug-a-bugs.  Fortunately, they only swarmed around two weeks a year.  Bug-a-bugs were dried in the sun, fried in oil, and eaten like pop corn.  After taking this boy's picture, he showed up a few days later with some bug-a-bugs for me to eat.  I managed one -- and drank a lot of water as soon as the boy left. 

There were two staples in the Liberian diet -- rice and cassava.  I tried cassava every way they served it.  It didn't matter if it was raw, roasted, boiled, fried, baked, or pounded into playdough called "fufu".   I hated it every way I had it.  I determined very quickly that when I had a home, cassava would never cross my doorstep in any way, shape, or form.  The only exception to that was cassava leaves.  It was one of my most favorite dishes. 

Copyright 1999 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.