Ceebu Jen

When we decided on doing Senegalese food, I don’t think either one of us knew what to expect. I have little to zero knowledge of Senegal; James probably knows more because he’s an encyclopedia. I really hope the girls inherit his thirst for knowledge…Anyway, the only thing I did expect was to eat fish since it borders the Atlantic Ocean.

I think I’ve mentioned this before but seafood always makes me nervous. I grew up in southwest Texas and the seafood we ate was mostly catfish and shrimp from the gulf. I’m sure we ate more because my dad loved fishing but all I remember is catfish and shrimp. Catfish is not good. I mean, it’s not bad, but there are few people who would choose catfish when presented with fish options. And there’s only one way to make catfish: fried. You know why? Cause you have to fry all the crap out of it, literally. Shrimp is a little more versatile and I love me some scrimps so I will not say anything bad about shrimp. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried many different kinds of fish but deep down, I’m still that little kid from Uvalde, grossing out over another catfish fish fry. I lived in Austin for almost six years before I ate my first fish taco for crying out loud!

Fish can be gross.

I really hoped that would not be the case with this meal. Ceebu Jen is considered the national dish of Senegal but just because the Senegalese like it, didn’t mean I would. I am seriously a fountain of positive thinking. Constantly shooting out positive energy into the universe.

I had nothing to worry about. This was one of my favorite meals in a looooong time and as the picture shows, the baby liked it a lot as well. I had barely put the plate down when she started scooping out food. And she didn’t stop. It already called for plenty of veggies so the only thing I added was red bell peppers. It reminded me of paella, which it basically is. My rice burned a bit because I forgot about it but it didn’t affect it too much. I never cook rice on the stove top, I use a rice cooker, so when I do, I almost always forget about it. I loved the texture of the cabbage, eggplant, and squash; everything was just so chewy.

We had a good amount of leftovers because the oldest refused to eat it so I had the pleasure of eating it for an additional two days. Let me tell you, it.held.up. I’m a weirdo who likes to eat leftovers cold (I’ve actually analyzed this habit and it’s way too complex to get into) and it was really delicious even cold.

So this is completely unrelated but it’s a pretty big day for us. Four years ago today, our oldest came into our lives. She is now THE four year old and not the ALMOST four year old. She is quite possibly the most stubborn child I have ever met and as a parent, it drives me crazy because sometimes (always) I don’t need to be told why she can’t or doesn’t want to do something, I just need her to do it. I know this will work for her benefit someday and that’s why I’m as patient as I am, which is not very. But her strong opinions have helped me as a person and with this project because as she makes it very clear, I am not the best at everything and not all the food I make is awesome. She keeps me humble and grounded and for that, I am appreciative.

Happy birthday you difficult, wonderful little girl!

Recipe

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