Story and photos by Sarah Block.
It’s a new decade, change is in the air, and the heat is on. So if you’re pressed for a new adventure, don’t fret: just keep your mouth open!
The number of ways to experience the food at Jazz Fest can be overwhelming, but some of the options can actually take you farther than others. For instance, in years past, I would have headed straight for a meat-pie line. This year, it’s all about that Doh Doh and Jama Jama from the Benacchin stand.
Doh! I’m talking Cameroonian/Gambian for fried plantains and sautéed spinach, balanced out by a side of coconut rice, in case you’re not up on the cuisine out of Africa: it’s definitely a bold spin on some common eats.
According to the chef, the greens are sautéed with garlic, onions, and ginger, which give it a real kick. When I had my first bite, I thought, "it's a baaaad Jama Jama," and it's, in fact, as fine as it can be. The aftertaste is spicy enough to where I felt the need to alternate between it and the meat-lover’s answer to the coconut rice, set atop it: the Poulet Fricasse. That’s French for “a marinated chicken skewer.” The chicken was juicy and flavorful, more salty than spicy, and was a hardy counterbalance to the Jama Jama.
I slipped-in a slice of Doh Doh every now and again, which provided a refreshing sweetness to the mix, but I really didn’t try to put a dent in the plantains until I’d grated as many stray fibers of chicken off the skewer as I had patience for. Once I finally laid the stick to rest, however, that Doh Doh made my head spin! The plantains were soaked in this nectar that heightened the natural flavor of the fruit.
By the time I got through all of these tasty bites, and the plate had been cleared, I knew I was tided over until I could make room for a Sno-Ball. Dessert-wise, I can’t be sure that what’s off the beaten path is as good as the classics. When it comes to the meat and potatoes however, Bennachin is even better.