Our hot air balloon launched today and headed south--toward Mexico, Central America, and South America. Counselor Stef Chicoski led the excursion, showing photos of sunny beaches, Mayan ruins and a reggae band. The campers are ready! Many had traveled in the region and all were very eager to sample the tortillas, enchiladas and quesadillas that were on today's menu. The tortilla press was in action for three different homemade versions--whole wheat, white and ones made with masa harina--and the accompanying Pico de Gallo and Guacamole had just the right amount of heat.
But the star of today's show was clearly Chef Seymira Salamy, who came in to talk about African foods as we sailed over the Atlantic to the Ivory Coast in western Africa. Plantains are a common food in Africa and we learned all about how to choose and prepare them from a Master Chef contender who now has a catering and personal chef business. The former rugby star still cares about fitness though! She works at KoKoFit in State College and counsels clients about how to balance intake and outgo to live a healthy lifestyle.
Chef Seymira captivated the campers with her tales of her native land. We could feel the heat of the Sahara and imagine the pesky monkey that eluded the police force in her town 10 minutes from the beach. She showed us how to wrap a towel and place it on your head to carry a basket, and explained the outdoor cooking methods that used wood. Fresh food is the mainstay in Africa--little processed foods at all--and people shop at the markets and buy local fruits and vegetables. Coconuts, peanuts, corn, cassava, mangoes, and her father's favorite--papaya--are abundant and appear on the menu. The plantain dish that Chef Seymira demonstrated used ripe plantains that were deep yellow with a few black spots. She showed how to slip them out of their skins, slice them, and toss them with fresh rosemary, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper before deep frying them in peanut oil. Crispy when done, and delicious! The campers gobbled them up.
What a shame that Chef Seymira couldn't stay for lunch which included a typical chicken, tomato and kale stew served with Coconut Rice and a Peanut Sauce. She would have loved that--and the Coconut Pie and Coconut Triangles too! The Ginger Beer is one of her favorites, and refreshing frescas with watermelon and mango matched nicely with the tropical flavors that we sampled today.
After clean up Chef Corr demonstrated how to cut a pineapple, mango and papaya and then the campers got to try the scoring trick. And they had a ball with the melons. How fun! Fresh fruit is always a good snack and it's easy to include more in your diet if you expand your horizons beyond apples and oranges.
Want to see more photos from today? Click on the linked caption below the photo!