Sunday, 1 February 2015

Meal 31. Surinamese Pitjel, Telo and Chicken

Tonight a Surinamese meal with renowned cook Martin and his girlfriend Liza, in their sunny garden terrace. Martin tells me he could have made many different dishes: Surinam has as many cuisines as it has ethnic groups. His own roots seem to cover the whole spectrum...he's part Chinese, Indian, Creole and Javanese. His great-aunt ("Oma Tjoekop") provided the "Indonesian" part of this meal: the peanut sauce. Though she still lives in Surinam, she is Martin's source of the dried concentrate he needs to make the spicy sauce. "I wouldn't dare prepare this dish without it!" he confesses.
At right, you can see how happy he is with the famous "garter-belt" beans (kouseband), a Surinamese staple ingredient.
Other favorites included in tonight's meal are fried cassava (telo, at left) and fried plantain.
To accompany the food we drink Heineken and Fernandes soft drinks. This local brand started out with "Fernandes Red" and "Fernandes Green", and when those proved immensely popular, expanded its "exotic drinks" imperium with "Blue" and "Yellow". I find it amusing that nobody ever refers to what fruit the drinks are supposed to taste like. (I think the inspiration for Green is apples).
The pitjel is an assembled dish of loose elements that work well together. If we're being poetic, we could say the same about Surinam, a country where people of distinct cultures live together harmoniously.
While enjoying the pitjel with two of Martin's colleagues (from the Netherlands Basketball Federation), we discuss the Surinamese habit of making tjoeries (CHOO-rees). This sign of disapproval consists of pursing the lips and sucking in air as loudly as possible. The lips should be sucked against the teeth, else it doesn't work...
The tjoerie has even been mentioned as early as 1933 in the correspondence of a Dutch missionary to Surinam! Martin and Liza mention that when Surinamese men make flattering remarks to women on the street, the object of their affection will never respond. Only if the remark is highly amusing, will she deign to making a tjoerie. (Warning: Never do this to your parents! It is highly disrespectful! )

Click here if you'd like to recreate this meal (without Oma Tjoekop....)
Peanut sauce
Telo, deep fried cassava
Pitjel, assembled dish

(The original post about this meal is from Sept 19, 2006)

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