Monday, December 7, 2009
Comoros - Cloud Coup-Coup Land
Sometimes I wish I could zap myself somewhere around the world. I wish I could say, “beam me up Scotty,” and I’d be on a remote white sand beach in Comoros with the scent of ylang-ylang in the air. Then again, if it’s too easy to get somewhere everyone goes and it looses its mystery.
Comoros is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. Its nearest countries are Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar and the Seychelles. The country consists of four major islands and many smaller islands, although, the island of Mayotte is still apart of France.
Comoros has had a troubled history since independence of France in 1975. Its been nicknamed “Cloud Coup-Coup” land because of its crazy political climate. The country’s three major islands – excluding Mayotte - have experienced almost twenty coups since independence. The political violence has left Camoros desperately poor and it has few natural resources.
But the islands do have a spectacular array of exotic plants and animals. For instance they have fruit bats with a wingspan of more than four feet. I told you I read the book The Bizarre Truth by Andrew Zimmern and he ate fruit bats when he went to the islands of Samoa. He said that these bats are so clean you can eat every part including the insides of its intestinal tract because all they eat is bread fruit. He and his traveling companions cooked the bats over an open fire, scraped off their fur and roasted them whole.
Another interesting species in the waters around the islands is the coelacanth. It’s a fish that has been around for 400 million years and was once thought to be extinct for 60 million years. It’s called the “living fossil” fish and a live fish was discovered in 1938 and one was recently caught by a Comorian fisherman.
Life was crazy the day I cooked a meal from Comoros. More accurately, the day Kevin cooked a meal from Comoros. The company children’s Christmas party was that morning, Julia had a birthday party to go to that afternoon, and John announced that he was going to have a social studies test about the Vikings in French. So, while Kevin cooked, I spent a good part of the evening translating John’s notes. I now know more about the Vikings than I ever cared to know. I just hope John knows it. Plus, I was shamelessly voting for myself for the Canadian Blog Awards and watching my Eat Planet blog name ride up and down the list, celebrating when my name was on the top, cursing when my name was on the bottom (though I’m not sure that has anything to do with where I stand). I could be dead last, for all I know, or it could be all very random. Nonetheless, it ‘s turned into an excessive hobby of mine, watching my name go up and down the list.
So Kevin made the meal, but I did choose the recipe and I did run to the grocery store. Cooking all these new recipes can be exhausting and yet, I discovered, I cannot let up. In fact, I must up my game if I want any hope of doing this in a year. I mean, my God, I’m still in the C’s! I feel like I’ve been doing this for years. How am I still in the C’s? So, at any rate, it helps when Kevin volunteers to give me a break.
The meal Kevin made was Poulet Au Coco (Chicken with coconut). Technically I should have picked out a seafood recipe since Comoros is known for its excellent seafood. In fact, I was going to cook langouste a la vanille (lobster cooked in vanilla sauce) but, quite frankly, I didn’t have it in me to make some complicated seafood dish no mater how delicious it sounded. Although, I may cook it one of these days so I will be sure to let you know.
In the meantime, I found this lovely chicken and coconut dish that was quite simple and the perfect thing to throw at Kevin. He did a wonderful job; he diced the chicken in little pieces and cooked it in butter, onions, garlic, curry powder, fresh thyme and coconut milk. When it was done it looked beautiful and tasted very good - except for the pieces of branch we kept pulling out of our teeth. When putting in the fresh thyme Kevin didn’t just throw in the leaves but the tiny branches as well and, at first, John thought they were little bones. At the end of our meal our plates were rimmed with thyme branches. But who’s complaining? I didn’t have to cook!
Beam me up, Scotty!
I’m standing on a picture postcard beach just as the sun hits the water. In the distance I can see Grande Comore Island, the home of the largest active volcano in the world. My hotel is far from fancy and since it’s a Muslim country I can’t drink wine and I must be modest and cover up. But it’s a great place to escape and, best of all, its still shrouded in mystery.
Poulet au Coco (Chicken with coconut)
1 lb chicken, diced
2 TBSP butter
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp fresh thyme
6 green onions, chopped
1 bunch parley, finely chopped
Fry chicken in butter until golden brown, then add onion, garlic and curry powder. Stir-fry for 15 minutes then add coconut milk, thyme, green onions and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and stir and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve on a bed of rice and squeeze lemon juice over the top.