National Geographic : 1911 Jan
DUMBOY, THE NATIONAL DISH OF LIBERIA in water; but unless the water is used very sparingly the dumboy becomes sodden. The beating requires about three quarters of an hour, and is hard work. As the beaten mass becomes homogeneous the pestle produces a loud crack each time it is drawn from the mortar. These sharp reports can be heard for long distances through the forest, and are a very welcome sound at the end of a day's journey. When the dumboy reaches this stage the operator may rest without injury to the quality of the product; but, once the beating is carried past this point, it must be rapidly com pleted and the dumboy eaten at once. If the natives are to be believed, it is actually dangerous to eat dumboy that has stood for more than a few minutes after it is beaten. If allowed to stand long it becomes very hard, broken pieces of dried dumboy being a favorite kind of shot for use in the long muzzle-loading guns of the natives. A casing of dumboy is also used to stiffen the leather sheaths of the native swords and knives. As soon as the beating is finished the dumboy is taken from the mortar and placed in shallow wooden bowls (see figure on page 88). The native method is to place the entire quan tity in one large bowl from which all the partakers eat. If divided, the customary portion for each person is a piece about the size and shape of an ordinary loaf of bread. A soup which has been prepared while the dumboy was being beaten is now poured into each bowl. There is great variety in this soup, which imparts most of the taste to the dish. There is always a stock of some form of meat. This may be either chicken, deer, fish, monkey, or even canned beef. To this are added as many vegetables as can be obtained, the choice depending upon the season. The list includes sweet potatoes, bread fruit, eddoes (the Liberian name for yautia), and, if possible, "whaney." Whaney is the juice squeezed from the POUNDING THE CASSAVA TO MAKE THE DUMBOY pulp that surrounds the seed of the oil palm. It is not attractive in appearance,. but imparts a rich flavor to the soup. In any case, parched "kiffy," or "beni," seed must be added as a condiment. Kiffy is a small melon-like plant, the seed of which are parched and finely ground. Beni (Sesamum orientale) is the plant commonly known as sesame. The seeds are treated in the same way as kiffy seed, and have very much the same taste. The parched seeds of either of these plants is a delightful condiment.