The mind wanders, not in defiance of boundaries but in search of meaning and truth. An exploration, not confined to history and culture and societal constructs. After all, the mind isn’t community, it is per person, per head, per brain to think and create and share.
I’ve had Banga with ‘starches’ – pounded yam, garri, ‘starch’ and yes, the collective name for staples, the main accompaniment to soup is also a personal name for a specific type of starch, known simply as ‘starch’. Extracted from cassava, from shredded, fibrous flesh leaving the thickened white starch behind. For clothes, and eating.
I’ve had Banga on its own. Fingers scraping the inside of a bowl, the bottom of a claypot, licked clean of spice, and memory and meaning. Faint orange stains left behind. A trail of nourishment and desire, spread across flesh and fingers, sometimes palm.
And now, I’ve had Banga in a pottage because one day I opened up kitchen cupboards and longed for the deep, rich, palm nut flavour that stared back at me.
It began easy enough and ended up interesting and if I’m honest, a touch confusing used as I am to soup licked.
The main things were there – palm nut cream, plantains, yams, scent leaves, ground crayfish.
I scooped off the oil at the top. Yes, I know…your cholesterol levels have soared just looking at it. Sigh.
I heated that up’
And then added the cream cream. With a pinch of salt, ground crayfish, dried chili powder and a pinch of Banga spice.
Water and lemon grass followed…
And then chunks of yam, cut small…in rough sqaures and geometric shapes, about the size of golf balls, if golf balls were straight-sided.
And when the yam was a few minutes from being fully cooked, one added plantains and dry fish and a bit of water, so the sauce left behind wasn’t overly thick.
And then one waited for it to cool fully.
And voila, ready. Done.
I must tell you that I enjoyed it, weird as it was.
I had it hot, and I had it cold. I wasn’t hot on the plantains – they were ripe and a touch soft but the yam…oh Lord, the yam was heavenly. So heavenly, I ate more than a few bowls cold. Topped with a chiffonade of scent leaves.
In spite of the fact that I really enjoyed it, I’m not sure I’ll make it again. And that surprises me because as far as I know me, I’m always up for food adventures. Always ready to venture beyond the known. I guess I like the quest for adventure, but also the security of anchors, of things that pin you down to the familiar amidst the unknown and the new.
And so it is, that Banga soup stays calling my name. I think I’ll eave pottages to the confines of tomato bases and pepper soup ones.