Episode #13: “Land of the Lost”
The Congo’s rainforest is located in central Africa, it spans approximately 1.5 million square miles.
The most famous Congo rainforest people are the Pygmies. The average height of Pygmy men is just 4 feet 10 inches (1.45 meters). The average height of Pygmy women is just 4 feet 1 inch (1.33 meters).The Congo River, which is the second largest river in the world, flows through the rainforest.
The Congo is very rainy. The average rainfall is a little over 58 inches (147 centimeters) per year. The climate of the Congo is warm and wet with an average temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Beware the Antelope” (Tag)
Players: 4 or more, ages 4 and up
What you will need: Choose a square or oblong field with “boundaries” set
How to play: The leader is called the antelope and stands in the center of the play area with the other children standing close to the edge of the playing area.. As the game starts, the antelope is in the center and the other players stand around the edges of the square. Now comes the switch. Instead of the others chasing the antelope, he runs after them.
If he tags another player, or if a player runs outside the boundaries, this player also becomes an antelope. Then the tagged players help to tag the others.
Usually the game is fast, and doesn't often last long. The last player to be tagged is the winner of the game. The winner gets to be the antelope for the second game.
“The Osani Circle Game” http://www.connectingdotz.com/osani-circle-game/
Players: 4-10 children, ages 5 & up
What you will need: Open space for children to sit, sides of feet touching, legs outstretched
How to play: Children of the Ituri Forest in Zaire (Rep. of Congo, central Africa) begin the Osani game sitting in a circle, feet touching at the sides, as seen in the photo below. "Each child in turn names a round object like the sun (oi), the moon (tiba), a star (bibi) an eye (ue)." On a players turn , if they can no longer think of an object that is round, that player exits from the circle. The child that stays in the game without being eliminated is the winner. He/she is said be the one who will "live a long and prosperous life." The game can be replayed again, allowing the winner to select the next identification game. Perhaps naming animals, or things of the color red!
To make the game more complicated for older children, each child must say what every other child before him/her has said in the circle in the exact order the items were offered.
FOODS OF THE CONGO
Less than 2% of the land in the Congo is cultivated, and most of this is used for subsistence farming. Congo's farmland is the source of a wide variety of crops. These include okra, cassava, mushroom, tubers, and rice.
Okra A staple of the Congo diet. Though this is thought to be a traditional southern North American food, this delicacy is blended in with the starchier foods at meals to help make them more balanced. Okra, when cut crosswise, has 7 seed pockets. Okra is high in Fiber, Vitamin K and Vitamin C.
Mushrooms A fungi, are especially prized amongst the Luba people of the Congo and are often used as a substitute for meat in times of shortage or to replace the high cost of animal protein. The natives also eat more hearty root vegetables to add fullness to their diet, as meat is scarce and thus expensive. Did you know there are over 2500 mushroom varieties grown in the world today? How many have you and your family tired?
Fishes are plentiful along the River Congo, its tributaries, and various lakes; The Congolese bake, boil and fry their fish for immediate consumption. An alternate way of preparing the fish is to smoke or salt the fish as a means of preserving them to be eaten at a later time. A fun way to make fish is to pepper the meat and baked in banana leaves! Perhaps this would be great to try on your grill!
A NATIVE RECIPE FROM THE CONGO
Saka-Saka (Cassava Soup) http://www.congocookbook.com/vegetable_and_side_dish_recipes/saka_saka.html
Saka-Saka (Saca-Saca, Sakasaka, and also known as Mpondou,Mpondu, or Pondu) is the Congolese word for cassava leaves, and the name of a dish made from them. Could "saka" be a Congolese pronunciation of "cassava", doubled for an emphasis on quantity to name a dish wherein cassava leaves are the main ingredient?
Central African people seem to be unique in their consumption of cassava leaves, which are cooked as greens. Elsewhere in the world, the cassava (or manioc, yuca, or yucca) plant is cultivated only for its tubers.
Cassava leaves are found only in the tropics. If you can pick your own fresh cassava leaves, select the smaller, newer leaves; the larger, older ones are tough. If cassava leaves are not available, substitute collards, kale, or turnip greens
Lots of cassava greens [or substitute kale, collards, turnip greens, spinach, or similar], stems removed, cleaned, and cut or torn into pieces
A few spoonfuls of palm oil, Moambé Sauce, or any oil
One onion, chopped
One clove garlic, minced
Sweet green pepper and/or sweet red pepper, chopped (optional)
Eggplant (peeled, cubed, rinsed, and salted) or okra, chopped (optional)
Salt, or baking soda, to taste
One piece of dried, salted, or smoked fish; or one can of pilchards; or one can of sardines
Thoroughly crush, mash, or grind the greens in a mortar and pestle or with whatever you can improvise. (roll them with a rolling pin, crush them in a heavy bowl with the bottom of a sturdy bottle, etc.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add greens and cook for thirty minutes or more (much more if using cassava leaves)
Add all the remaining ingredients to the greens and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Do not stir. Simmer until the water is mostly gone and the greens are cooked to a pulp.
Many Central African cooks use baking soda, or a piece of rough potash, to give a salty flavor to soups and sauces. This replicates the flavor of traditional salts which are obtained by burning the barks or leaves of certain plants. This was necessary because there is no other source of salt in much of Central Africa.