A Toast to Africa

April 2nd

African map

The African dinner party was such fun. Thank you to everyone who encouraged my craziness; the planning was worth it. I cooked, shopped, cleaned and enjoyed every moment of a week preparing for this soirée. One guest couldn’t attend, but otherwise it was a hit.



Cashews are one of Mozambique’s top exports.

plantain chips

I also served fried plantains and slices of toasted French bread — both pretty common where I’ve traveled in Africa. I added Smitten’s mango salsa for a touch of color.

Mango salsa

Main course:
Peanut soup — this recipe is simple and wonderful. I will certainly make this again.

cutting board

Koki — a Cameroonian bean dish. White beans, palm oil, pepper and banana leaves are needed. The result is something like a Mexican tamale. You wrap the bean mash in a banana leaf and steam them for one hour. These were bland, but the spice in the piri piri shrimp and the salt in the soup created a nice balance.

ingredients for koki
koki on the banana leaf
koki, tied and ready for steaming
koki, steaming

Pretty sure Africans don’t use a rice steamer for their koki, but I wasn’t about to buy a cast iron pot and build a fire — as I watched my Cameroonian friends cook a time or two. When you’ve got electricity, use it.
{You can find banana leaves and palm oil at Lee Lee’s Market, if your grocery list is exotic. That store is such a find! If you are ever cooking an international meal and need an odd ingredient, it is the first place to turn.}

elephant beer
south african wine

We toasted Africa and our upcoming adventure with elephant beer and South African wine. We are very much looking forward to touring the wineries near Cape Town.

Hungry woman’s simple sorbet in mango with fresh slices of mango on top and coconut sugar cookies. Yes, I am still full 18 hours later. And looking forward to left-overs tonight.

gift bags for guests

My guests received a parting gift — a small bag of coconut cookies and a soundtrack. While this may not be the homemaker Hollywood soundtrack I mentioned last week, it does fit the travel bill nicely:

Limpopo River Song — The Bulawayo Church Choir
Get Out the Map — Indigo Girls
Light Enough to Travel — The Be Good Tanyas
Other Side of the World — KT Tunstall
Under African Skies — Paul Simon
Maiden Voyage — Robert Glasper
Back to Black — Amy Winehouse
Stay or Leave — Dave Matthews
Fond Farewell — Elliot Smith
Go Tell the World — Joy Zipper
Graceland — Paul Simon
Y’outta Praise Him — Robert Glasper
You’re the Ocean — Teitur Lassen
Grace — Kate Havnevik
Where the Streets Have No Name — U2
Better Together — Jack Johnson
Home — Sheryl Crow

I need to have parties like this more often. Even though my home is small, it all worked out. I even had enough silverware. Phew.

Posted in
Africa, Journal, Recipes, Travel
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26 Responses

  1. Sounds like so much fun!

  2. I’m glad your party went well… the food looks wonderful!

  3. It all looks so delicious! I love mango salsa! And all the elephants (I am a bit of a collector of all things elephants…I need to stop soon:)

    I am glad it went so fantastic!

  4. What a wonderful party, Kelli! The food, favors and everything are so perfect. Your attention to all the details were probably a fabulous delight for your guests. I love mango salsa and fried plantains (platanos)– so yummy!

  5. yumm all that food looks delightful! I once had fried plantains with the most glorious guacamole and it was delicious. Plus, I’m sure all your guests loved that CD. Sounds like some good listening.

  6. yum, indeed. that looks like a wonderful party. you have very lucky friends!

  7. Kelli, I’m so glad it all worked out, and the pics you took are great! I gotta know what kind of camera you use.

  8. Girl, that sounds fantastic from beginning to end! And everyone likes a good party soundtrack. At least that’s what I told myself when I was carefully selecting the cds to play when we had my sister and her family over for pizza on Sat. πŸ˜‰ [I throw the word “party” around pretty loosely, right?]

  9. What a great party! The pictures are very cool. The CD is a fun idea for a gift.

  10. What an awesome party. I’m glad it went well.

  11. I’m glad all went well, and I’m sure your guests enjoyed the food, the music and the company! About the cd, absolutely my kind of music, great choice Kelli!

  12. oh you are way too fun.
    sounds like an awesome party.
    love the parting gift bag.

  13. First of all, “Get out the map” is one of my all time favorite songs. Second, if I ever move back to america and then If i ever come to Arizona, can i come over for dinner?
    that mango salsa looks great, can you post the recipe?

  14. Looks great! Glad you had a good time!!! I would LOVE to know how you made that mango salsa!!!

  15. Yum, yum, yum!!!

  16. this sounds stunning! nice work. i enjoyed your insight into your day trip to mexico, too. i grew up in a predominantly mexican area. it was very interesting to be the only white girl in my class.

  17. Wow, congratulations! The food looks and sounds really interesting. You must have been at it in the kitchen for hours. Like your party favor music.

  18. What a soundtrack!!! Several favorites of mine on there and the food looks divine. Mang o anything s my favorite…I love how some street vendors sell mango on a stick with chili powder and lime…Congrats on a good soiree!!!

  19. Damn!! I always miss a good party! πŸ™‚

  20. everything looks beautiful and delicious! congrats on a wonderful party… i am now inspired for some peanut-based cooking πŸ™‚
    have you seen the cookbook “extending the table”? my friend lived in rural guatemala for many years and this was her standby… the one cookbook that had recipes whose ingredients she could actually get. there is a peanut chicken in there that is divine.

  21. You should put a “not safe for work” warning on your blog. Do you know how hard it is to make myself stay in my cubicle and look at your travel and food pics? I just want to run out and pack a suitcase! If the party is any indication, it looks like you’re going to have an awesome trip.

  22. Jennifer DiGiuseppe April 3, 2007

    Kelli the party looks amazing! I love the idea of party favors…the cookies with a CD…the music looks like such a great mix! I’ll have to check out a few of the tunes to get a feel for the night. Thanks so much for sharing!

  23. This all sounds fabulous Kelli! So glad to well well for you. I just have to move closer to you. :-))

    The pictures are awesome!


  24. It all looks wonderful and sounds great – bet it was a ton of fun. Thanks too for the very intersting look at your trip to Nogales. I’ve never been to Mexico – it must be amazing in many ways. (good & bad)

  25. oh wow, it all looks soooo yummy! i love throwing themed parties too, πŸ™‚

    ps i had no idea that cashews were a big import there! nice little fact about my fav snack, πŸ™‚ teehee.