Among the many advantages of marrying a Senegalese woman is the opportunities it affords to party Senegalese-style. And, last night, the Senegalese Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington threw another of its Independence Day bashes.
|Nadiya and Maty all tricked out for the party|
This party was months in the planning. Meetings were held, funds distributed, responsibilities conferred. Each of the dozen or so women in the Senegalese community (which includes Senegalese women, and American women married to Senegalese men) prepared a traditional dish, in huge quantity.
The banquet was impressive. Tiebou-djen (fish fried-rice, very spicy) by Naboo. Barbequed chicken and lamb courtesy of M'barou, who also contributed yassa (onion sauce, also very spicy). Awah slow-roasted michou (lamb), Ana hand-rolled ném (Senegalese spring rolls) and Rakki made mafé (peanut sauce, usually served over rice) and fataya (similar to fried wonton). Sarah baked dozens of (superb) chocolate-chip, raisin, brown sugar cookies. Reina brewed hibiscus juice and Janice was general sou chef. Nana, being 7 months pregnant, was exempted from cooking responsibilities, but insisted on making the steamed rice.
All day, yesterday, Maty was at the grill on our back patio, cooking up beef shish-kebobs. The night before, Friday night, she set the meat to marinating in her own secret marinade sauce. (Among its ingredients are garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Beyond that, she will not tell.) She also stirred up 10 gallons of ginger juice.
All these women take pride in their cooking and I can attest that each has an artful hand in the kitchen.
As the party got started, Baba Wague Diakite, a Senegalese folklore interpreter, told stories for the kids.
The Old Man Who Loved to Dance
Dinner was served according to what my friend Babacar calls West African International Time. (Get it? W.A.I.T.)
|Babacar and me (sporting my Senegalese shirt, a gift from my father-in-law)|
The women of the Gambian community arrived late, contributing 3 or 4 dozen roasted chickens, banana bread, and more. (The Gambian women are magical in the kitchen. Even Maty defers to their skill.)
While people were lining up at the buffet, the drumming started.
After the drum show, everyone was fed. It was time to dance.
|Dance floor was hoppin'|
This event has grown in the 5 years that I've been attending. I venture there were the better part of 300 guests this year. There were many Senegalese, but also people from Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Algeria, Congo, Burkina Faso, Togo, Cameroon, and of course the generous Gambians. And there were many Oregonians and other North Americans as well. I had the pleasure of meeting a Portland couple, Fred (fire-fighter) and Marybeth (nurse), who, like Maty and I, came together as a result of the Iraq invasion. (They met at an anti-war demonstration.) Another silver-lining story from the darkness of the Bush years.
As the evening wound down, I was well-fed, entertained, and dog-tired. Another year, another great party.
Party on, Senegal!