We are never eager to eliminate an African nation from the World Cup of Food. African food, before we took on this endeavor, has been a subject of which we knew little, and what we have discovered has been a joy to experience. Madagascar and Morocco have proven to be no exceptions.
On the African island of Madagascar, edible green leafy vegetables abound, lending themselves nicely to what is probably the country’s national dish: romazava (recipe follows). Available meat and poultry, like chicken or the locally prevalent cattle zebu, supplement the dish and create a one-course meal. Chilies and ginger give the dish some kick, and the spicy dish that results is a great foil to Madagascar’s tropical climate.
Which did we prefer?
Malagasy Cuisine (from the African island nation of Madagascar) is an embodiment of the various peoples and their cultures who have settled on the island throughout its inhabited history. The first Malagasys, outrigger canoe-powered settlers from Southeast Asia, arrived sometime between CE 100 and CE 500, bringing with them rice, ginger, plantains, and root vegetables like taro and yams. Those plucky underdogs from Borneo cut down much of Madagascar’s forests and caused the extinction of loads of awesome-sounding animal life (like the Malagasy hippopotamus or the giant lemurs) before wising up and planting rice almost everywhere on the island. As a lasting legacy of the first Malagasys from Southeast Asia, it is a rare meal in Madagascar today that is not served with rice. East African immigrants came around the tenth or eleventh century, their boats stocked with zebu, a cattle relative. French meticulousness arrived with their colonization in 1896, and modern Malagasy cuisine was born. Continue reading Malagasy Cuisine — Varenga: Crispy Shredded Beef
Lasopy (recipe follows), a hearty vegetable soup from the heart of Madagascar, is a frequent fixture at the Malagasy dinner table. Meat bones and the local, seasonal crop of vegetables are simmered together until tender then pureed into a smooth, not-too-thick soup. If available, pieces of baguette (an artifact of the French colonial period of Madagascar) might be served alongside.
Lasary (recipe follows) is a specialty of the highlands of Madagascar, where it is enjoyed as a side dish or maybe as a topping on a baguette sandwich. Tomatoes and green onions join forces in this fresh, simple, tasty salad.
Sakay (recipe follows) is a spicy Malagasy table condiment made of chilies, ginger, and a little garlic. The flavor is a bit like that of Sriracha sauce, the Southeast Asian hot sauce that is all the rage with the kids these days.