Flavors of Africa

Our church recently sponsored a gentleman from Burundi to come to Anderson, Indiana for our national campmeeting. His name is Thomas Bangurambona and he is a great storyteller and communicator. Some may have had difficulty understanding him, but since my husband and I both speak French, it was a beautiful pleasure to take in the cadence of his words.

It's amazing that Burundi gets very little press. Burundi is a small country, ripe with coffee and gems. They have gone through the same "civil" wars as Rwanda, with the Tutsi and the Hutu killing thousands of people. He told us the beginnings of the Hutu and Tutsi, dating all the way back to King Solomon and Queen Sheba, worsened by the influence of the Belgians. I would almost tell people everywhere never to do commerce with Belgium ever again after hearing Thomas' story, but the influences of the Belgians are the distant pass, and holding grudges gets no one anywhere. Thomas doesn't hold grudges, even though he has lost family members in this ugly conflict. It has not dampened his spirits or his love for people.

I figured since Thomas had a week of eating "American" food, I would try to cook some African foods so that he would have a taste of home. Lucky for me, the Burundi diet is plentiful with naturally gluten free foods. Cassava, beans, rice and corn are staples of their diet. I was so excited because they also often eat goat, which to me here in the states is a delicacy. (Since I'm not a farmer.) It's amazing to me when I tell people that I've eaten goat meat that they find it so bizarre. It is flavorful and rich, and not at all "gamey." It is a bit tough, so you have to cook the stew meat for quite some time, but when you do, it's like eating love on a spoon.

I found a recipe for goat stew here, and it looked good enough to try. I've had goat curry from a restaurant down the street, but they are from St. Kit's and the flavors are a bit different. This recipe calls for tomato puree in the directions, but not in the ingredient list. Since I had no exact measures, I just threw in what sounded good to me. I was nervous at first, because the meat was tough, but after two hours of cooking, it was tender and tasty. It's important to cut the goat up into small pieces so that it really cooks well.

I'll have to admit, I didn't take a picture. I wish I would have, because the rich colors from the tomato sauce, the carrots, and the beautiful color of the goat was a sight to behold. The aroma was even more amazing. Adding the bit of peanut butter at the end added to the depth of the flavors- although I didn't measure it exactly and just threw in what I wanted. I didn't bother to add the flour, because I actually had to keep adding water to the pot since the goat meat soaked up so much of the sauce in cooking.

I served the dinner with traditional beans and rice, cooked greens, and plantains on the side.  I bought the plantains from the restaurant down the street, as I didn't want to have to deal with frying them. They're worth the money. We had leftovers this morning and ate them with pancakes smothered in peanut butter. Yum!

Thomas seemed pleased with dinner and I hoped that it tasted a bit of home. At the end of a good night, Thomas prayed for us in Kirundi, which was incredibly moving. He prayed with such strength and conviction, I don't think I've ever heard anyone pray like that in my life, ever. What would the church in America be like if we all prayed like Thomas? One can only begin to imagine......