A Little Friday Fun With Food

By Merritt Frey, Executive Director

 Buying milk at the market in Mali.

Buying milk at the market in Mali.

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:

 The version of Mali doughnuts I tried...I could eat that whole batch.

The version of Mali doughnuts I tried...I could eat that whole batch.

  • 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).