Slow Food has also carried out a mapping of traditional products and gastronomic culture in Mali, in collaboration with the FAO and with funding from the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. At the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, during the conference “Discovering Africa’s Riches, from Millet Couscous to Natural Cola,” the producers themselves will be describing this heritage of plant varieties, animal breeds, food products and recipes.
Manger Dans la Rue
Mali’s markets are trade hubs and meeting places, characterized by an intoxicating wealth of scents and colors. Whether in a big city or a small village, customers can always stop by one of the market’s street food vendors for a bite to eat.
Sitting on the ground behind huge cooking pots over open fires, women prepare fur fur (fritters made by frying balls of ground niébé beans, onion, salt and chili), alfintà (millet fritters cooked in a special pan with round holes), meat kebabs and grilled or smoked fish. One food typical of the city of Djenné is rice pancakes prepared in the morning by women who mix rice flour and water then cook the batter on a griddle. They are eaten for breakfast, freshly cooked, served with honey or fish.
Among the most common sweets are meni (or meniyong), made from toasted sesame seeds and honey, and simple donuts made from a dough of flour, eggs and sugar. The break from shopping usually concludes with hot tea or a freshly prepared baobab, ginger or tamarind juice.
1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) niébé beans (black-eyed peas)
1 tbsp tomato concentrate
2 minced garlic cloves
½ tsp pepper
10 g dried onion or 1 large fresh onion, minced
1 tsp dried okra powder
Shell the niébé beans and leave them in the sun for an hour. Wash the beans well, then leave them to soak in water overnight or for at least 3 hours. Rinse them several times until they lose their black skin. Pound them in a mortar to obtain a smooth paste. Stir in the salt, tomato concentrate, garlic, pepper and onion, then add 20mof water. Mix again with the pestle, then transfer the mixture to a bowl and gradually add the rest of the water.
Continue to stir the mixture, then add the okra powder and stir until combined. Use a spoon to form the batter into balls and fry them.
Animal farming, both sedentary and nomadic, represents an important economic activity, and is practiced almost everywhere in the county, especially in the arid northern regions. Nomadic herders cross the north of the country with their herds of cattle, goats, sheep and camels. The Né sheep, also known as local sheep or Djallonké sheep, is the most common breed and very resistant to climactic variations and disease. The white-fleeced Bali Bali sheep is bred between the cities of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, and its delicious meat and high milk yield make it particularly prized, though it is less hardy than some other breeds. The N’Dama cattle breed is trypanotolerant, in other words immune to the bite of the tsetse fly, and generally has a high resistance to disease and parasites.
Zebu cattle are bred not for meat but for plowing and transport. Dromedaries camels are bred only by nomadic groups in the regions of Mopti, Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.
Michela Lenta, Serena Milano
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