One of the books in which pink gin gets drunk is Alexandra Fuller's new memoir, Cocktails Under the Tree of Forgetfulness. Like her first book, Cocktails is populated by eccentric white Africans who shoot guns, imbibe great quantities of alcohol and eat very little food. One of the foods they do eat in Cocktails -- or talk about, anyway -- is piri piri prawns. The words piri piri prawns had the same effect on me as pink gin.
But the ingredients sounded a lot better. Piri piri prawns -- which originated in Mozambique -- contains chili peppers, garlic, butter, and big, meaty shrimp. There are recipes in both Marcus Samuelsson's Soul of a New Cuisine and The Africa News Cookbook. Since Africa News is growing on me in a big way (more on that later), I opted for their recipe.
I looked forward to dinner all day long as the the shrimp marinated in the refrigerator. You're supposed to grill them, but I couldn't pull it together for grilling, so I cooked them quickly in a very hot cast-iron skillet and they came out perfectly. But after three prawns, I didn't want to eat anymore. While I love them all individually, I just don't like chili peppers, garlic, butter, and shrimp all together, and I don't know why. Too rich, I suppose, but usually I love rich.
To go with the piri piri shrimp, I served a Sudanese eggplant salad, also from Africa News. It involved frying peeled chunks of eggplant, chilling this grey-green mush, then mixing it with lemon juice, garlic, and crushed peanuts. It sounded so drab I almost didn't make it, but it was fantastic. I would type the recipe into the blog, but I don't have the cookbook with me right now.
It looks like there's a pattern emerging here: On another night last week, I thought we were going to love Marcus Samuelsson's lamb stir fry, but it seemed like it really wanted to be stew and we didn't love it.
He suggests serving the stir fry/stew with chunky mashed vegetables, which sounded like a horrendous porridge of sweet potato, carrots, green beans, and chili powder.
|chunky mashed vegetables|
See, you never really know about a recipe until you try it. Almost never. I knew the chocolate rum cake from Samuelsson book would be lovely, and it was.
Although, calorie for calorie, I'd go for hot fudge pudding.
On another subject, I'm in Oregon on a short business trip, if you can call riding a chairlift, drinking huckleberry milkshakes, and visiting botanical gardens "business." If you have any suggestions -- food or otherwise -- for the Mount Hood and/or Silverton areas, send me a note!