You wont believe it but at one point in my life I just stopped eating Jollof rice. I grew sick of it. Sick of eating it every time I attended a wedding, a christening, a 7 day and sick of eating it on sunday or at Christmas, Boxing day, Easter, Easter monday and the list goes on. As for the seperate gravy that came with it...well, where do I start? I'm sorry but where do people get off with meat cubes and onions sitting at the bottom of the serving dish with oil floating around on top? It was like watching goldfish rise to the top of stagnant pond water when I put the spoon in to serve. Then there was the salted pork that came with it, on top of the oil and gravy. Salted pork to add to what exactly...the flavour? Well it didnt. I hated the very sight of it. Most times I skipped the gravy because ...well because I just had enough with excess. I never missed eating it. I would just pass it by and go for anything drenched in palm oil, hmmmph, much more tasty with much more omph...My days without Jollof rice were tasteful but that was until I left home to start University.
Destination - Liverpool, UK. The home of Liverpool F.C (no comment) and the Beatles, you can bet your bottom dollar there was no palm oil in Liverpool. It wasnt too long before my longing for african food took over any table manners I had acquired through the ages when I got home for the holidays. I threw my bags on the floor, mumbled hello to all the nosey african friend-of-the-family-types sitting in the front room and headed straight to the pot, scooping out as much rice and stew and pouring the palm oil round my plate as though I had been starved or imprisoned. And when I came back from Uni - God help the cook, if there was no african food waiting for me. I behaved like an ungrateful husband.
The only two dishes I could cook at University were Groundnut/Peanut butter stew or Jollof rice. Infact those are the two dishes that you can pretty much cook anywhere in the world, no matter where you end up. Grounnut stew and Jollof rice. So here I am in the 90's in Liverpool, UK with no african food for months on end and what do I do? I pick up the phone and call home because now I need to learn how to cook that damned Jollof rice that I dont even like anyway - but it will do, for now. Thank you very much!
I've always wondered about the origins of Jollof rice because most West African's cook it. It is celebratory food, eaten mainly on special occasions. Always cooked for civilised gatherings in almost every household in West Africa. So where does it come from? Well, believe it or not my research keeps getting the same results; it appears to have derived from the Sene-gambia region and is considered to be Wolof food. Jollof rice allegedly originates from 'Benachin' meaning one pot in Wolof. A popular dish which has seen variations concucted through out the west african coast. I still have to find out why Jollof rice is associated with celebration and the gathering of people. Any one out there got any takes on this?