Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Congo, Democratic Republic Of - King Lepold's Ghost

Democratic Republic of Congo has also been known as Belgian Congo, Congo Free State and Zaire. It’s located in Central Africa and the third largest African country, and yet, only the most adventurous would consider traveling to DRC. It has been the center of Africa’s world war that has claimed the lives of 3 million people all in the name of mineral wealth and the ability to plunder natural resources.

The history of DRC has been defined by corruption and civil war. It’s the setting for the famous book by Adam Hochschild called King Leopold’s Ghost about one of the most infamous international scandals of the turn of the 20th century.

If only greed and corruption could step out of the way, DRC could be a rich African nation with its untamed wildlife and trillions of dollars of untapped mineral resources. With its exotic animals, sprawling rainforests and fast-running rivers it could also be a favorite tourist destination. If only….

For our DCR meal I cooked chicken a la moambe (fried chicken with peanut butter sauce). The chicken pieces were browned and cooked in tomato paste and peanut butter. As a result, the coating on the chicken was gooey and messy – we used lots of napkins – but was quite tasty. I served it with cassava, or yuca.

The cassava root is not very appealing to look at; it’s long, rough and brown on the outside. I looked up how to cook it and found several good recipes but decided to do the most simple. So I peeled it, chopped it, boiled it and then served it. It looked like cut up boiled potato but had a more delicate flavor.

After we ate our meal the kids and Kevin went to Toronto to see a football game. I had the whole evening to myself. I worked and then decided I should do something more fun so I dug around in my collection of movies and found “An Officer and a Gentleman.” I hadn’t seen it in years and I was surprised by the nudity, just because I’m almost certain I watched this with my parents.

There’s a scene in the movie where the Sergeant is putting Zack (Richard Gere) through hell because he caught him breaking the rules. The Sergeant dares him to quit but Zack breaks down and cries, “I have nowhere else to go!”

The people of DCR live with violence and failed politics, and they’re stuck. They have nowhere else to go. But perhaps they too will learn to rise up from their circumstances and do more than just learn how to survive.

Chicken A La Moambe

Pieces of chicken
Vegetable oil
2 cups water
2 oz. peanut butter
salt and pepper

Brown chicken and discard oil. Combine tomato paste and water and pour over chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper and peanut butter. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

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