#41: Somalia

Welcome one and all to the Federal Republic of Somalia!

It was nice to steal away to a country that was a whole lot warmer than our own this week. We got a really good hit from Jack Frost and we are now gearing up to break a long standing snow record for February (like 1912, guys…). This means tomorrow’s storm will make Colorado history books. It’s any wonder what our snowiest month of March will bring along. I, for one, plan on stock piling oreos and coco for the impending promise of a snow in. At least a girl can dream…

THE DINNER: This trip to the country of Somalia was a lot of fun. We took a page from when we traveled to Saudi Arabia in week #15 and made a drink the center of our meal. We picked this lovely hot tea, Shaah (though looking back we could have had it cold and it would have tasted just as delightful). Now, don’t confuse this tea, Shaah, with the landlord and ruler, Shah. It is it’s own beast. When doing research for this week, it became clear that Somalians drink quite a lot of this spiced tea with milk. Though recipes vary from household to household, the basic Shaah is cardamon, cinnamon and cloves. Occasionally, I have run across a recipe that includes spicy components like black pepper or Cheyenne even. Talk about a kick on a cold day!

We paired our spiced tea with Fried Sweet Breads which were utterly perfect for the weather and with the tea. These are akin to fried pastries or doughnuts and though eaten primarily at tea time like crumpets, they can also be seen gracing breakfast tables and dessert bars. It’s not uncommon to find them served with fruit compote, though typically they are consumed plain. It’s a throw back to the beignet that so often is part of French and neo French cultures (like New Orleans cooking). This makes a whole lot of sense as the french did have control over that region for a while.

Shaah Spiced Tea Recipe: http://tammyssomalihome.blogspot.com/
Fried Sweet Breads Recipe:
http://www.mysomalifood.com/sweet-fried-bread/

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this Dessert!
This one was pretty simple as far as ingredients. Ginger, cinnamon, flour, sugar… it was almost all in our pantry already! But as far as the execution, it was sort of difficult. It seems to be that way when you deep fry things. I mean, that stuff is seriously dangerous, so if you feel like a kitchen badass you’re good to go, but for the remainder of us mere mortals, this is handled with care. Attention was paid to the sweet breads because they fried quickly, which was also really great. My mom is a culinary adrenaline junkie so she had no problem frying them all at once, putting to use her mad Leftsa flipping skills over the years. That woman doesn’t flinch in the face of hot oil. For all the rest of us, it’s a three star undertaking…for her she made it look like an easy two. I split the difference and made it a three star difficulty for good measure.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Dessert!
Alright, if you really want the truth it was just under four stars. We gave it a 3.75 with a smile as it was very tasty but seemed to narrowly miss the mark somehow. Whether it been the lack of frosting or sweetness in the sweet breads or the aromatic power of the tea, it just seemed to barely miss that four star podium. I for one love strong tea and coffee, but this was quite strong– in retrospect, I should have added more cream. It’s very similar to chai in that it’s a spiced tea with milk, but it was different in someway than chai. It seemed to me that this was a whole lot easier and more “everyday” than many of the countries that pride themselves on complex and multi-ingredient chai teas. It was quick and simple and for that I loved it. It was also lovely with the sweet breads. Overall, delightful and satisfying. What more can you really ask for?

Week #42 is going to be a trip to Greenland! That’s right, we’re hanging with the Vikings next weekend!
It’s going to be an adventure as always… though I really would like to try whale at some point, it’s probably not in the cards yet for this Colorado family 😉 Who knows what other things will pop up though, as there never seems to be a shortage of surprises in those Nordic countries…

Hope you’re not buried under the fresh podwer!
– L & K

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