Sharing Tigadiganun Stew
Only the wealthy few in Mali, West Africa can afford this stew of potato, onion, tomato, peanut paste, beef, and fish. The name of the stew is pronounced "tigadiganun", I do not know how it is spelled in Bamanankan, the national language in Mali. It is very tasty.
I learned how to make this stew when a fellow US Peace Corps volunteer told me that a wealthy Malian family had noticed me and wanted to join in on my appropriate technology project. I agreed to consider expanding my work so they sent an invitation to me to spend an afternoon at their home and then to have dinner with them. In retrospect I realize that they intended that I sit and talk business with the heads of family, the men, in the living room above the courtyard, but I was innocently distracted by the women talking excitedly and preparing food so I said hello to everyone upstairs, then joined the women cooking in the courtyard. I sat on a tiny wooden stool next to a very sparse fire as an elderly Malian woman squatted for several hours cooking the various ingredients of the stew that she told me was called tigadiganun. I was amazed to see her cook this complicated dish on such a small fire. I could tell that she was pleased with my company because she kept checking to make sure that I followed what she was doing. Neither of us spoke French very well, and I knew very few words of Bamanankan, but sometimes words are not necessary when you have a shared interest. It was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I spent in Mali, even if the temperature was the usual 100+°F. During dinner I talked to the men in my pidgin French and was dismayed to learn that their village was far south of the capital city of Bamako, considering that my assigned village(s) was a 149 miles north of Bamako. I told them I did not know how I could work in both villages so far apart, but I said I would consider it to soften their disappointment. I sent word early the next day to them, saying that I could not leave my original assignment due to my commitment to that project.
I was stateside in this photo, in between operations, but I still enjoyed sharing Malian culture with Americans.
Caption: Annmarie Throckmorton making tigadiganun stew, wearing a Malian tie-dyed skirt 1981