Welcome to Ms. R's Blog!

A big shout out to my old students from Savannah and from Duluth! I miss you guys, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to travel and see a very different part of the world.

The teacher in me can never resist a teachable moment. So, as you read my blog about living and teaching in Liberia, I hope you absorb some new knowledge. Please comment on my posts; feel free to ask me questions and to answer the ones I’ve posed. I want this blog to be a place of dialogue!

I’ve got a list already started of things to write about, but I would love your input. What do you want to hear about?

Monday, September 26, 2011

At the Cook Shop

I was able to Skype with a class in Duluth, Georgia last week.  They asked many questions about the food that I eat and the animals I see in Liberia.  So, the next two blogs will be focusing on these two topics.

Admittedly, I am not an adventurous eater.  You won’t find me on any game shows that require consuming intestines, livers, or bugs.  In that respect, I apologize that you will not be able to read any gruesome tales of my dinner table. 

What has intrigued, or interested, me most about Liberian cooking is the method of cooking at local cook shops.  These are places owned and frequented by Liberians.  (There are other restaurants owned by expatriates, people from other countries where you can go to get more “American” style food at a more expensive rate.)

WARNING: Local cook shops should only be frequented if you’ve been taken there by someone you trust.   The locals may not cook with clean water, which is a no-no if you want to avoid nasty stomach problems and typhoid.  

There is a local cook shop across the road.  Notice, I did not call it a restaurant.  When I say local, you should just go ahead and imagine a dilapidated, old and falling down, building.  The building is divided into two rooms – a kitchen and a dining room.  The kitchen has many women sitting on the tops of jugs of oil, stirring in pots.  There are no ovens.  Rather, the women cook over hot coals!  The dining room has about 6 plastic picnic tables and chairs, and the flies are abundant!

True Liberian food is accompanied by rice.  The sauce or soup served atop the rice is usually very oily and EXTREMELY spicy.  I’ve tried cabbage soup; it was red, surprisingly.  There’s another dish I tried that had cassava leaves ground up in it.

If you want to know how much to pay for the meal, you ask, “How mow?”  That’s like Liberian English for “how much?”  (Side note: Liberians speak their own FAST dialect of English.  I cannot understand it…yet!) 

A meal with rice and soup and drinks for three people costs $350 LD, which is $5 US!  If you get to know the cook, you can begin to make requests for what you want to eat and can bring Tupperware containers to fill up and take home for dinner!

I definitely want to get to know the cook and let her know that I’d like to stick to chicken or fish.  I’m told that most times, the meat is “bush meat.” Quite frankly that means that whatever is killed in the bush is what ends up on your plate.  I’m not ready to be a connoisseur of rat meat or whatever else might be thriving in those weeds.  Last week, I almost ate pigs’ feet.  In another dish, I found cow skin!  

Cabbage Soup and Rice (with fish)
Christine's Cook Shop
The Kitchen
Challenge:  Look up fufu.  What is it?

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