There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than cooking for the orishas, thus I want to share with you a really basic recipe that is sure to please one of the most beloved orishas of all: Oshún.
There are many things that can be said about Oshún. She is the darling of the Orisha pantheon because of her particular domain: Love, wealth, coquettishness, witchcraft, and craftiness in general. She is also the apetebí non-plus ultra and the only female orisha that could drag the Master of Iron out of his voluntary retreat from society into the jungle. Let me see what else I can add to the list of this orisha? Ah yes, but of course she saves Orunmila as well in another patakí.
However, that would be dwarfed by the time when she saved the world when Olofi was ready to destroy it based on his disillusion with the folly of orisha and humanity. Oshún decided to intervene and visit Olofin’s castle herself by transforming into a Vulture (what we Lukumí call Kolé or Igun) and flew for days upon days until she found Olofi and asked for mercy. She was granted her request upon the condition not to say she intervened in the saving of the world. She humbly returned to see that other orisha were laying claim to her success. Tired of seeing lies spread, she was about to break her oath to Olofi when the heavens opened and Olofi recognized her merits and established that even if she was the last and smallest of the Orishas, she would be from that moment on the most powerful due to her humble heart. Or so the story goes…
In any case, who can’t but to love her? Personally, I am nuts over Oshún and as you can see even in my “Omimelli” name, she is reflected, as it means twin waters, ocean and river.
Ok, so here is a little tribute to my beautiful Yeye, it is simple and chances are you have in your pantry and refrigerator all you need to put it together in a matter of minutes. It is non other than home made French toasts but I like to call it:
A Tower of Power (Torrejas)
1 honey jar (5 ounces)
½ cup of sugar
¾ cup of sugar
½ tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp of cinnamon
¼ tsp of orange extract
½ tsp of vanilla extract
½ cup of slivered toasted almonds
2/3 cup of milk
1 loaf of French bread (make sure you have a firm crust on the bread)
1 pinch of salt
1 stick of butter
2 tsp corn or canola oil
1 sliced orange (5 nice round pieces would do)
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat along with the oil, set aside.
2. Mix eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract in a large bowl.
3. Slice the bread slanted (½ inch thick slices) and using a serrated knife as to avoid crushing it.
4. Heat up a pan (medium heat) and brush with the butter and oil mixture you had set aside
5. Dip the slices quickly into the mix on both sides and remove excess moisture
6. Set to cook over medium heat making sure they turn out golden
While you are cooking the slices of French Toast, start on your syrup. This is rather simple, equal parts of water and sugar are combined in a sauce pan (¾of sugar to ¾ cups of water, cardamom powder and orange extract are added, you could use orange zest if you wish as well). Let the syrup thicken slowly over medium heat and once it coats a spoon nice and even it is done.
Serving the dish is where the Tower part comes to play. If you have used a full loaf of bread and sliced it as I recommended you will have a massive pile of golden slices of toast (an an irresistible urge to dig into them while they are hot!). Get a nice plate and arrange them so they look like a tower, then organize the oranges about the plate to make it look pretty and enticing. Drizzle the syrup on top of your tower and then sprinkle the toasted almonds over the tower. The last touch is to liberally cover them with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon.
If you have a petition to make to Oshún, this is the moment to do it. Write it down on a piece of nice parchment paper (please do not use a piece of horrid brown paper over this creation!) and place it atop your tower folded in the shape of a flag secured on a toothpick.
One last hint, Oshún loves champagne and beer…a nice fancy glass filled with a bubbly will go a long way to complete this offering.
I hope you share your own recipes with others, generosity is one of the traits of Oshún…be generous with your knowledge and find your life touched with her blessings.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá