Thiebou Dienn (‘cheb’) from a place on East 116th St, gotta love the tamarind

Thiebou Dienn for lunch today, the Senegalese national dish. This wasn’t homemade, like the last cheb photo I posted, but instead was sourced from the nice ladies at 62 East 116th Street, between Park and Madison.

One of my office-mates has been craving Senegalese food for days now, so when she pulled the menu for the old Guinean place I frequented before I went down to the Secret City out of the stack I had a twinge of nostalgia and quickly gathered up the gumption to call them and order two plates of cheb. I know you’re thinking, “Senegalese/Guinean, what’s the deal here; do I go to a German restaurant for spaghetti bolognese?” Maybe you don’t, but in my limited experience everyone who’s tried it enjoys eating cheb, even me, and making it is kind of fun too.

The restaurant had kept the same phone number, but according to the order-taker they no longer did deliveries, and when I went to their old premises, they had moved, so it was a mini-adventure in itself just getting to the place, which was bizarrely named “Akwaaba,” the Twi (Ghana) word for welcome. So Senegalese food from Guinean cooks in a restaurant with a Ghanaian name.

As you can see, it looked pretty good when I got the dish back to the office and unpacked, and the colleague was very appreciative of my efforts.

They didn’t stuff the fish (some kind of sea-bass, I think), which is certainly an option that the Senegalese gastronome would not forego, but they did include the tamarind pieces. I think tamarind and a white fish go great together, and I should probably try to do something a little less elaborate with those two ingredients soon.

For your own delectation, you can try these at home:

  • My favorite cheb recipe comes from an old, old New York Times article, now available here.
  • Epicurious has a version as well, that lacks the tamarind, but does include the dried smoked fish, which is an acquired taste.
  • An easy recipe, that doesn’t stuff the fish or make the rice with the cooking liquid, is available at the bottom of this page of collected African fish recipes.
  • A wiki page with the recipe is here: they include the tamarind and stuff the fish both.
  • And this one from the pages of the Times in this decade, is way too complicated. Dried snail, anyone?

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Archived (and blurry) pictorial tunafish recipe, just right for a lazy person’s Sunday dinner


In the picture, from four years ago, the canonical tunafish salad recipe, already blurry with the patina of age. Don’t forget the palm oil; the stuff is so yummy with fish. The little knoblike thing on top of the pickle relish jar? It’s a shallot.

I did OK tonight, whatever shortcomings from the recipe made up for by delicious fresh bread my girlfriend baked earlier. I had no pickle relish or palm oil, so a little olive oil and some tomato-apple relish from a home-canned jar in the back of the fridge had to do. No shallot either.

Tags: sandwich recipe tuna shallots olive-oil relish palm-oil photographs

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Vote for Sedre the kitten at #twtpets:

I entered my kittycat Sedre on the site, which is an “Am I
hot or not” for one’s pets. So far so good: she’s 11-1, with three
undecided. Vote now!

Rust and peeling paint on Staten Island; finally I found the picture I sought last month

Last month I was looking for this picture to illustrate the comparison
between the bright, shiny James Bond universe and the slightly grungy,
rusty Jackie Mittoo version of the James Bond theme.


It’s rusted flatbeds out on Staten Island.



Best secret-town pic, ever


I am really pleased with this nice blast-wall picture, which I took with my new replacement camera. It’s from secret-town no. 4, where I spent a day before flying out to New Jersey. Yes, soggy and freezing New Jersey. No more unidentified locations for me, or rather, just a couple days before I head over to the city that needs no identification, the archipelago at the mouth of the Hudson.

Stadium, statist-style, with flea-market stores underneath

Here’s a nice shot of the stadium here at the secret city. Can’t have a secret city without a sports complex, right? You can’t see the outdoor pool from here, but it’s behind the stands here.
Underneath the stands is a row of local-national shops selling luggage, bootleg videos, and sawdust-themed cigarettes. It reminds me of something out of that William Gibson novel where all the people are living on the Bay Bridge, in a community-theater-budget kind of low-key way.

Tree in courtyard, larger and more magnificent than the building itself

I came upon this building taking the shortcut to the tent from the refectory last night after dark. The building has a courtyard in the middle, but look at the tree! It would be even better if the current secret-city administration had kept up the landscaping of the last tenants, but I doubt that landscaping is really their strong point.

Hescos on pallets

Lucky chance, I saw these Hescos still on pallets. In the closeup you
can see how the spirals are preattached to fill about six large-size

My fixed-wing bike is packed and ready to fly; US$62 to mail it, however!

The bike has kept me sane these last six months, so I have mixed
emotions about packing it up and sending it home, away from the secret
city. I’d hope to have other sources of sanity when I get home, but
what am I going to do in the in-between time?

Friday night I broke down in a sudden fit of clarity and made a list,
with “clean bike” and “pack bike” down for Saturday and “mail bike”
for Sunday. The greatest accomplishments always wind down with a
whimper, yes? In this case, it was a frustrating 500-meter ride back
from the rec center to the tent. The rear wheel needs a little
attention: there’s a bump in the tire from the last time I put air in
it. it’s the kind of thing that makes a good fitness ride frustrating:
going bump-bump-bump down the road.

So last night I cleaned the whole vehicle, prying the clods of dirt
out of the bottom of the front fork, and reaching in with the old
toothbrush to wipe off the hubs. Then I packed it back into the box in
which it arrived, and I must have done it right because the axles push
into the exact same holes on the same sides of the box as they did
previously. Bamse and Peg went in as well, in the little box with the
tire gauge and 15 mm box wrench.

And this morning I took the box and a chair down to the post office to
mail it home. For some reason, it couldn’t go ‘Priority,’ so it ended
up costing $62 to mail, but the important thing is that it’s going
home at all, and with any luck I’ll get there before it does.