The Congo is alive in Sydney! Sean Connolly recounts his experiences preparing and sharing a traditional
Congolese family meal with the Ndayi family in the backyard of their Sydney home.
Isaac and Mbuyi lead me around the farm where Mbuyi grows traditional African produce.
like many refugees, came to Australia with nothing, but he leased a
field and is growing plants that are commonly used in Central Africa
cooking. He hopes to develop the seeds and make a business out of it. I
find the ‘ngai ngai’ leaf very interesting. It’s the young leaf of the
rosella bush and is an ingredient that I may well use in a couple of
dishes in one of my restaurants.
Justine, Rachel and Stella are
wearing beautiful traditional bright coloured dresses with matching
headwear just as they would have worn back in Africa. They look
absolutely stunning and when I first meet them I get the nervous
giggles, they look so gorgeous I can’t believe my luck. I am in the
middle of a field in Doonside in the outer suburbs of Sydney, trekking
through long grass with these beautiful Congolese families and I feel
like I've been transported to the middle of Africa.
Justine and Isaac’s home, the girls show me a few of their favourite
dishes. The dish I enjoy tasting the most is braised pumpkin leaf. It
has a sweet flavour and nutty texture from the crushed peanuts and a
last minute drizzle of Sierra Leone palm oil. Who would have thought
it could taste so good.
I don’t really know what to expect when
Isaac takes me to buy the goat, and in the end it's hilarious. We
arrive at the farm and are met by Shane and his dad who are from
Queensland. His dad is wearing a 10 gallon hat but Shane is the star.
There's nothing he doesn’t know about goats.
He invites us
into the paddock, but we have to wait in a holding shed while he
organises the goats. The putrid smell of goat’s urine is almost
overwhelming. Apparently the billy goats spray themselves with their
own urine to make themselves smell more attractive. It does’t work for
me, in fact I think I am going to vomit. Luckily Isaac and I are saved
by Shane, who took us into the fresh air.
The billy goats seem
quite agitated and not happy to see us at all. I have agreed with the
director Ben that I will catch the goat myself even if I have to
personally crash tackle it. But once I am in the pen I realise that
these animals are not to be messed with and I decide to take a back
seat and leave it to Shane the master shepherd to take control. The
idea is to catch the goat by its tail first rather than the horns.
horns first could potentially do some serious damage, and I can see why
when I see the enormous horns coming straight for me! When I recover I
look up to see the same fear in the faces of the camera crew before we
all burst out laughing.
Another filming day and unexpected experiences.