There was a lot of good food at Sunday night’s international potluck. It was a dinner for the Venture Club kids (3rd-5th graders) and their families, and I figured there’d be a lot of North American food with International names attached, like “Hamburgers from Germany.” That sort of thing.
But that wasn’t the case. Lots of authentic digs covered the table: among other things, there was falafel, rice and beans, Swedish meatballs, spicy Indian potatoes (by yours truly), and a yucca and cheese dish. Also, there was a rather blah looking dish of Something Or Other. The only reason I noticed it was because a little girl at the front of the line dug into that bowl with such a vengeance that I was mildly alarmed. I suggested politely that perhaps she’d like to try some of the other stuff, but she just looked at me like I was crazy.
So when my turn came, I took some of the mysterious blah stuff. I mean, how could I not after that girl pounced upon it so enthusiastically? There was chopped onion and tomato and mayonnaise (mayonnaise, really? um, okay...) to put on top.
Back at my seat, I took one bite and had a fit. “What in the world is this?!” Fortunately for me (and maybe not so much for her?), the maker of the mysterious dinner was sitting right beside me. I proceeded to grill her. How? What? Why? How?
Turns out, the blah mystery dish had a name: fatira. It’s an African dish, a common street food, and it couldn't be more basic and simple to make. (Later, I researched it briefly and learned that it’s common in many countries, or at least the name is frequently used. I’m guessing it’s kind of like enchiladas—in different countries the word means different things.)
I got seconds. So did my husband. On the way home afterwards, we both agreed that it was our favorite dish of the whole meal.
The next day I emailed for the recipe. Last night I made fatira for supper.
(There was also baked squash and green beans, lest you were worried about the lack of green.)
My two girls weren’t too stoked about the dish, but all the boys (and I) went hog wild.
And then my family endured an attack of The Crazies that I can only attribute to the fabulous fatira we had just feasted upon. All sorts of strange and wild things happened, and all to the soundtrack of My Fair Lady, no less.
There was a belly dancing boy in a blue dress:
There was a glitzy poodle-skirted and red bonneted spiderman:
There was a whirling pink dervish:
And there was an elegant damsel with a blue beauty mark and rectangular reading glasses:
They gave a stunning reenactment of the horse races at the Ascot Race Track on Opening Day, too.
I coached them in the fine art of The Dover Line: C’mon Dover! Move yer blommin’ arse! It’s best done at the top of your lungs, and with all of us yelling in unison, the house fairly rocked.
So anyway, I recommend you make fatira.
But then, watch out. All bets are off as to what will happen next.
Adapted from Cindy, a long-term missionary to Africa
Cindy claims the fatira is much better with homemade tortillas. I used bought ones, but next time I’ll make my own.
I’ve tried the fatira with ketchup and mustard, but I didn’t much like it. For me, mayonnaise is the way to go. (But some of the kids really liked it with ketchup. To each his own...)
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound ground beef
6-8 small flour tortillas, chopped into little squares (½-inch by 1 inch, or so)
4-6 eggs, well beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
Condiments: chopped onion, chopped tomato, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard
Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the cumin and stir briefly. Add the ground beef and sauté till browned and cooked through. Add the chopped tortillas and stir for a minute. Add the beaten eggs and stir till cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
Top the fatira with the condiments of your choosing.
This same time, years previous: whoopie pies, snickerdoodles, happy birthday, Happy Pappy!