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Waka Waka • This Time for Africa, A Dinner Party

October 3, 2010 by Joan Nova in Appetizers, Blogging, Fish/Seafood, Food Challenge, One dish meal, Soup | 71 Comments

I’m still a contender! Thank you for voting me through to the next round of ProjectFoodBlog 2010. I’m ecstatic to be doing what I love…planning, cooking, eating, drinking, photographing and writing. I even gladly suffer the shopping and schlepping to participate. This is Challenge 3.

“Get creative and host a luxurious dinner party where your guests will discover new tastes and exotic flavors…and share some hosting secrets.”

Since food is the most important element of any dinner party, I focused first on the directive “new tastes and exotic flavors“. Pretty quickly I came up with the idea to create a tasting menu sampling the cuisine and wine of the African continent. Once I satisfied that element, I decided to have fun with it and go all out with decorations, music, and regional wines.

Ingileni (come in please) as they say in the Congo. Welcome to my dinner party.

The Guests
My invite said I’d be making a dinner with “new tastes and exotic flavors from African recipes”. Even though my guests are ‘foodies of the highest order‘, I had to assure them that there would be no gazelle intestines or monkey brains on the menu.

Meet Susan, a travel writer/photographer; Gail, a food and wine connoisseur; Christine, publisher of South Florida Food and Wine; and Maude, Chef/Cooking Instructor. (That’s not all they do but if I list everything, I’d run out of allotted words.) Interesting women, n’cest pas? We are all members of South Florida Foodies, a “food/wine/fun-loving/media-savvy/mixed demographic” group who love to get together over food and drink.

The Setting
My home is pretty removed (literally and figuratively) from the Serengeti. It’s in a well-toned area of Palm Beach County with all the trimmings and conveniences one could think of (except an African market).

And my decor is pretty contemporary. That means lots of leather, chrome and white tile flooring…but I have the right color pallete…and with a little ingenuity (and research), I set the stage for a colorful African dinner for my guests. I even embraced some of the traditions African nationals use to welcome guests. For example, in Tanzania a hand-washing bowl and towel are passed around before and after dinner. I scented the water with cloves, star anise, fennel seeds, lime and orange slices.

Playlist
Waka Waka (Shakira), Googoola (African Tribal Spirits), African Music (Jeff Joseph), Malaika (Bony M), African Mailman (Nina Simone), Mayombe (Maria Makeba).

The Menu and its African Origins

Appetizers
Appetizers were served sitting on floor pillows around a low table and, as is tradition, guests were given a cloth to cover their knees (doubles as napkin and modesty cloth). Taking a cue from Kenyan hosts, I used a brightly covered tablecloth with “contrasting striped napkins for a startling effect”. In some regions you are expected to eat with the first 3 fingers of your right hand, but I opted to choose appetizers that were skewered and or spoonable. This is sort of a guacamole but with the addition of anchovies, sherry and onions. I’ll never make it the old way again.

O jo jo meatballs, warm marinated fruits/nuts, Moroccan olive salad

Dinner (the luxury element)
We lifted  ourselves (with some effort) from the floor cushions and moved to the table and chairs thereby embracing the style of a Sengelese dinner which is served with “dignity and elegance” on bone white china “to contrast with other colors”.  Mozambique, Zanzibar and South Africa also set formal tables using their best china, silverware and wine glasses.

I followed a Liberian tradition of turning the dinner plates and glasses upside down with napkins on top “so as to allow each guest to turn up their own plate”. (hygiene?)

First Course: Shorba, puree of lamb and vegetables, laced with peanut butter and lemon juice.

Second Course: Theboudienne, a tomato-based stew with cabbage, sweet potato and cod fish.

Third Course: Sosaties of chicken, pork and apricots (marinated for 2 days); coconut rice

Sides: Steamed plantains and Shata hot sauce

“In parts of Africa, the husband may judge how much his wife loves him by the amount of hot pepper she uses. If his food seems bland, he feels her ardor is cooling.”

Dessert: Mango Ice Cream and Pineapple with Rum SauceWines
I bought bottles. They brought bottles. We drank bottles. :) Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc with appetizers; Rosé and Pinotage with dinner. All South African.

Party Tips from the FOODalogue Kitchen

• Be organized. For this party, I devoted a couple of hours a day for about a week to research/plan and make lists/sub-lists (how to decorate, what day to do what, photo shoot list); and to shop * repeatedly. For example, staples like wine (ooh, did I really put wine first on a staple list?), rice etc. early in week; mid-week, avocados so they ripen in time, other fruits and vegetables; the day before the party pick up the fish, meat and other last minute stuff.

• Be flexible. (1) The recipe for the Sosaties called for lamb, pork and apricots but I didn’t like the lamb chunks I saw at the market plus we already had lamb in the soup…so I substituted chicken. Also, I originally planned them as an appetizer on mini skewers but, somewhere along the line, I decided to swing them to the main course. (2) Don’t follow a recipe to a T if it doesn’t suit your tastes.

• Most important tip: I never plan a dinner party — whether it’s for 4 or 24 people — that has me tied to the stove once the guests arrive. If I can’t prep a day or two in advance and even reasonably complete a dish earlier in the day of the party, I won’t use the recipe.

With the first ring of the doorbell, I’m in full party mode. In fact, I’ve been known to uncork the wine before the doorbell even rings — well, I need to make sure I’m not serving spoiled wine to my guests, don’t I?

WAKA-WAKA!

My guests arrived at 5:00 and left at midnight. They loved the food and ambience. (And, remember, these women are well-traveled food and wine connoisseurs.) It’s fair to say the dinner party was a great success!

Voting opens October 4. I’ll be back to remind you.

Recipes/Links
Appetizers: Avocado + Anchovy Dip (Malagassy)
o jo jo meatballs (Nigeria)
Sosaties skewers (So Africa)
Moroccan Olive Salad with Raisins, Dates + Almonds
Shorba Lamb Soup (Sudan)
Theboudienne (Senegal)
Yellow Coconut Rice (Tanzania)
Steamed Plantain (East Africa)
Shata hot sauce (Sudan)
Pineapple Rum Sauce (Kenya)

*Note: I planned the dinner party from “The African Cookbook” by Bea Sander which was a gift from Oz, a native-born Nigerian and publisher of the beautiful Kitchen Butterfly blog. Thanks Oz!

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!

71 Comments

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  1. Evan @swEEts says:

    How fun! Such different dishes- it’s not everyday you see African food.. love it :) Sounds like you ladies had a good time. I wish they had a club like that around me!

  2. What a fun dinner party! Great to learn more about African delights. Nice job!!

  3. AJ says:

    Such a great concept for the challenge!! Love it!! Voting for you right now!! Thanks for stopping by my post too! :D

  4. What a wonderful menu! I love how you even used some customs like the hand washing bowl.
    I voted for you – Good luck. Hope you make it to challenge 4!

  5. Liren says:

    Joan, What a FUN and creative party! I would have loved to have been part of it – such fascinating dishes, and I love how cozy everyone is at the table. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the quote about gauging their wives’ ardor by the spice of the food! Good luck, I’ll be rooting for you!

  6. Mariko says:

    How fun. I love that you had a playlist to go along too.

  7. Curt says:

    Everything looks great! Again, what a great looking blog… This PFB thing is making me realize how many great food blogs are out there!

  8. Incredible. Love your green walls… and your neighbourhood is stunning… You are really fortunate to have friends that love food as much as you do! What a crowd to host such a fun event with… and do you know how to pour it on. I have no words… but you have my vote, as always!
    :)
    Valerie

  9. Beautiful dinner and party! Loved all the dishes. Best wishes on advancing to the next challenge!

  10. what a great theme. I will bookmark this for a special evening! Voted.

    (see my entry here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/3/view/1094)

  11. Great job and fun party, ha ha got a bottles of wine shot too. got my vote and thanks for yours in consideration!

  12. @lickmyspoon says:

    Looks like you girls had fun! You could’ve used any of these last week, I’m glad you saved them all for this challenge. Everything looks amazing, you’ve got my vote!

    Lick My Spoon

  13. Daily Spud says:

    Sounds lot a lot of fun was had (and, yes, I admit that I would also have been looking for the guarantee beforehand about there being no gazelle intestines or monkey brains on the menu!). Best of luck in getting to round 4.

  14. Robin Sue says:

    Joan this is all very impressive, from the menu to all the final details on decor and wine. Bravo! I can appreciate all the work you put into this and pulled it all off with your usual grace and style. You made it all look so effortless!! I am off to give you my vote.

  15. Peter says:

    Love African food — from Morocco to South Africa, I just love it. Cool theme for a dinner party, and looks like you had a lot of fun! (Voted, of course!)

  16. I Sicilian says:

    Hi Joan,
    Thanks for leaving a note on my blog. Wanted to let you know that your pictures are among my favorite. I voted for you, hope my vote counts.

  17. momgateway says:

    What a unique and intriguing dinner party! Amazing African recipes …you really should move on to the next round!

  18. Jessica says:

    Everything looks so great! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  19. A says:

    Amazing! Well done! I’ve never seen your blog before but stumbled upon it while checking out one of my favorite blogger’s entries in the contest. I am voting for you as well.

  20. hey this is AWESOME!!! Being a foodie blogger who lives in Mozambique, Africa, I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this post. Looks absolutely amaazing!

  21. Amy says:

    Thanks for stopping by! I’m so glad your comment helped me discover you. I wish I could have attended this African dinner party — you’ve really got it together and I’m in awe. :) Got my vote, of course.

  22. Africa! What a great idea and a beautiful post. You’ve got my vote!
    ~ Mary

  23. oh wow this is an amazing spread. can we come visit??

  24. Jenni says:

    What a great party! Love the hand washing lemon water. And the French manicure! Would’ve definitely wanted to be one of the girls for this dinner:)

  25. What a fabulous dinner party, I wish you had invited me! I would have flown all the way from Italy…any dinner starting at 5 and lasting till midnight was sure to have been a success. Off to vote!

  26. Superb Joan – very well done. For the spread. For your superb dinner-giving tips. And for being in the competition. Lovely and inspiring. Please let your next foodalogue tour be one through Africa!!!!!!!!

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joan Nova, Maude Eaton. Maude Eaton said: Waka Waka • This Time for Africa, A Dinner Party http://bit.ly/bkTF7d Fabulous! @foodalogue [...]

  2. [...] 1) Joan at Foodalogue: Waka Waka Party [...]

  3. […] homes for parties or pot-lucks, a few of which I’ve featured here before. Do you remember my Waka Waka African dinner party for Project Food Blog? Or that great Peruvian restaurant in Miami? Among […]

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