Signs of sierra leone
Garri | PLasas | Archeke
Garri is the ultimate lazy person food with a hidden bomb of cyanide to kill you if you indulge. It’s gritty texture, which you can turn up and down to match your preference, gives a bite to life with perfect satisfaction. Whether sweet with milk and sugar and groundnuts to top off, or savory with maggi and oil and sardines ; you do not need to bend over and turn on the gas, or make a fire. You can stay erect and unburdened, flash it together in a minute or two. So opposite of the slow cooking of all the other dishes, where time and patience season the food with timelesness. There is urgency and swallowness. Garri is sprinkled, caressed with fingers that mold it into the perfect texture. Shoved with that same right hand into mouths that crave it. Babies, adults, the self. And as it expands when touching water, dry garri expands in the stomach after eating it, leaving you full in a manner that denies the possibility of food for a good half day.
Cemented. A building block to construct time. To pass it in heavy satisfaction.
A mother smothers her future in the big pot on the fire. Reduced to a life in the kitchen, her goal becomes to make the sweetest plasas in town. The one that keeps her husband close, that boomerangs her growing kids back into her lap.
Her emotions reverberate into the dish. Matching, like a choreography links movement to sound to time to presence. Sadness makes her linger over onions, and when she’s angry her family will feel it’s peppery vengeance the next morning.
Some days she’s lost all hope. That’s when the plasas taste melancholic. The rice and sauce bledning into a perfect lump of nutrition, and before swallowing one must pause, because there is essence in this process. You watch her watching you, her existence depending on your appreciation of her soul work. And thus you swallow, because you wish you could liberate her from her domestic chains.
is for another generation.
The dish that unites West-Africa, not divide it like the Jollof Wars as a conversation starter between cultures.
It’s seemingly chaotic blend of ingredients has an odd logic to it. That of taste. That of excess.
Macaroni and garri and gravy and ketchup and boiled eggs and mayonaise and salad and fried fish and maggi and any other creative liberty the cook has taken upon himself. Eaten in low-chair restaurants from plastic plates, a fan not providing any coolness. The eater consumes it’s greasy confusion with conviction.
The richer you are, the richer your archeke. It can explode with more or be a sad little something, the ingredients shuffled in a sequence you want to engage in. Over and over again. For 10.000 leones you can feast, and for 20.000 you can die in cholesterol abundance.
But as a taxi driver once said, “Archeke, ar yan am,” shaking his head in disbelief, of how good his archeke is, made by the lade who has won many souls. Perhaps even taken it from the Mother of Plasas.