You Can’t Take it With You – Expat Cooking With Booze

The thing about being an expat living in Africa is that everyone brings you booze for every occasion.  Plus there were all those times you passed through the Duty Frees in various transit airports (Pro-Tip:  Big 5 Duty Free in Johannesburg’s OR Tambo.  You can thank me later).  And don’t get me wrong, a lot of it gets properly used in the imbibing process.  However, it is inevitable that there will be a move that will come around just when you have reached maximum booze collection density .

Just a few of my favorite things.
Just a few of my favorite things.

Something must be done – you can’t just waste fine alcoholic beverages!  This was how Expat Cooking With Booze started in our house.  With four-and-a-half months and 73 bottles of various (mostly inexpensive) sorts of alcohol that touched pretty much every category there is, we needed a plan.

Tequila Lime chicken, the only guacamole in Zambia, Caribbean potatoes (with the only green sauce in Zambia), and fried chipatis to add that tortilla chip feel.
Tequila Lime chicken, the only guacamole in Zambia, Caribbean potatoes (with the only green sauce in Zambia), and fried chipatis to add that tortilla chip feel.

Enter COOKING WITH BOOZE!  I began to gather together all the finest ingredients available in the Third World to create culinary delights that simmered with the delicate flavors of alcohol.  Or, rather, this monstrosity we found called “Doctor Vodka”, written in a Cyrillic alphabet, that even my Russian husband could not choke down.  It was half gone, the result of a visit by an NGO-worker friend from Romania, but he was long gone back home after cursing the internet situation and vowing never to eat a salad in the Third World again.

The result was a pasta alla vodka and an entire neighborhood of people who were ready and willing to try the results of my boozed tinkering.

There was no fresh basil  at the Spar or at the Shopright, but luckily I had thought ahead to plant a basil plant two years before.
There was no fresh basil at the Spar or at the Shopright, but luckily I had thought ahead to plant a basil plant two years before.

There were a few rough spots – like when we made a brandy glazed “steak” and pasta with a mushroom sauce.  A stateside friend asked me, “What kind of steak did you use?”  and I replied, “The kind they sold at the store.”

What kind of steak?  Whatever they had.
What kind of steak? Whatever they had. Choice is a luxury in a Third World supa-market.

Some of the recipes created monsters out of my children.  Whiskey cinnamon rolls?  NO – YOU CAN’T TAKE THE ALCOHOL FROSTED TREATS TO SCHOOL IN YOUR LUNCH.  You must eat them at home, where no one can see you!

That frosting - whiskey and icing sugar.  And amazingness.
That frosting – whiskey and icing sugar. And amazingness.

And even better, when you finish those pesky bottles off, you have ready made candle accessories for those moments the power goes out and the generator decides it isn’t feeling up to the task.

The latest in Third World functional decor - the bathroom night light.
The latest in Third World functional decor – the bathroom night light.

With such a wealth of Third World cooking with booze recipes built up, we’ve decided to make a once-a-week feature of Cooking With Booze – Expat Style.  You don’t need to be an expat to cook along, just have a sense of humor and find things like substituting fried chapatis for non-existant tortilla chips the sort of hilarious anecdote that makes travel and living overseas an adventure.  Also frustrating.

Which explains the booze.

Cooking with booze also involves cooking while drinking booze.  It's in the title, really.
Cooking with booze also involves cooking while drinking booze. It’s in the title, really.

Coming up for our very first recipe: Bourbon and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese!