By Merritt Frey, Executive Director
Before my first trip to Mali people kept predicting I'd lose 10 pounds. Alas, they could not have been more wrong.
I love the food in Mali and always eat well. This is true even though at home I can be a bit picky. I stopped eating meat when I was 11...right after my parents bought half of a steer I'd known (Buddy!) and filled our freezer. Over the years I've mellowed some, but I have to admit I'm probably on the fussier end when it comes to food.
But I do love food, and I love cooking, and I really love dinner parties. So a few years back when I started this job one of the first things I did was invite a big group of friends over for a Mali feast.
You can find the recipes from my party in this blog post. The recipes I used are not strictly traditional, but for western cooks I think you'll find them easy to pull together with a normal grocery store run and minimal cooking fuss.
But don't let my limited menu restrict you. The web is full of fun information about Mali food. Here's just a sample:
- Check out the Mali section of Ethnic Food R Us, which includes many more adventurous recipes involving everything from smoked fish to pork chops to catfish.
- Believe it or not, there is more than one Pinterest board featuring Malian food -- here's my favorite that features Mali but includes all of Africa.
- And this wiki doesn’t have recipes, but it does have a lot of background a good cook could use.
- Dessert is not a big thing at most Mali meals, although you can see the historic French influence in lavish bakeries in the cities. In the villages, I've rarely eaten anything sweeter than a can of fruit cocktail. However, I have a version of these doughnuts/pancakes in the market.
- Next up on my dishes to try? This recipe for Jollof Rice, which sounds like a variation on a theme that's tasty in any culture, from Panama to India.
If you get inspired to cook a meal or dish from Mali, consider taking a photo of your final presentation and tagging us on Instagram or Facebook (@malirisingfoundation)...or even Twitter (@malirising).