July 26 is the one day of the year when even the most passive Liberian nationalists don the red, white and blue to display their pride for Mama Liberia.
This year, The Bush Chicken spoke with a few of the premier voices in the Liberian diaspora to get their input on what they think would contribute towards hosting a fantastic July 26 event. Focusing on the areas of food, beverages, décor, music and activities, we have compiled a few suggestions to help make your independence day function the talk of the town.
Understandably, the most important part of any event is going to be the food, especially when it comes to a Liberian function. We reached out to accomplished Liberian Celebrity Chef Chauncy Yarngo, based out of the West Coast, USA.
Chef Chauncy, who has cooked for US President Barack Obama, has a fusion style of cooking that is a perfect balance to introduce your non-Liberian friends to some of the country’s fresh and delicious ingredients. He’s provided us with a flawless go-to menu when hosting a fabulous July 26 event.
- Start off the Independence Day with a small plate appetizer, a nice hot vegetarian cassava leaf dip. This dish consists of African greens in coconut milk, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and mozzarella. Put in oven for 30 minutes. Remove when golden brown on top and serve with a side of cassava chips sliced thin and fried in coconut oil.
- The second course would be a delicious truffle soup. Butter, shallots, truffle oil, celery, garlic, tomato paste, tarragon, lobster stock, heavy cream, and tapioca flour. Put the lobster in the soup bowl, bring it to the table and pour the soup on top of the lobster. Liberia has some of the world’s most delicious and freshest seafood, so this course is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Finish it off with a little drizzle of truffle oil and serve.
- The third course is a sous vide octopus, avocado mousse, peanuts, wood fired pineapple, white wine, and chile sauce. To completely tenderize the octopus it should be cooked at 180ºF for 3 hours.
- For the entrée, serve a whole grilled red snapper stuffed with cilantro. The accompanying sauce is made of onions, cherry tomatoes, black garlic oil, spicy summer peppers, endive, tomatillos, shallots, and lime vinaigrette. Add a sprinkle of chamomile flowers and shredded ginger to garnish the dish.
Alternatively, consider the creamy asparagus risotto, made with butter, onion, rice, wine, veggie broth, and asparagus cut into one-inch pieces. This can be a challenging and time-consuming dish to make for a novice, but it’s sure to please your guests. It is very important to constantly stir while the risotto is on the heat and make sure liquids are absorbed before adding any more. Add cheese and serve immediately when melted. Goes great with a glass of white wine.
- The final course is dessert – Chef Chauncy’s sexy chocolate mousse. Whipped heavy cream, semisweet, milk, and white chocolates, gelatin, egg yolks, sugar, milk, and whipped cream. Fill clear glasses about 1/3 of each chocolate to see different colors. Top with more whipped cream and finish off with some fresh sliced strawberries and blueberries for that red, white and blue patriotic flair.To get more information about Chef Chauncy’s delicious culinary recipes, make sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat via Chefchauncy.
If you’ve ever been to a Liberian party, there’s a good chance you’ve been offered a spicy and refreshing cup of ginger beer. Made with ginger root, sugar, cloves and occasionally yeast or pineapples, this staple beverage has been a crowd favorite for decades. Lila Brown restaurant proprietor and manager Tarek Ghosn shared a few of his go-to drinks for celebrating July 26.
Bloody Mary with Liberian Pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup ice cubes
1 (1.5 fluid ounce) vodka
3/4 cup spicy tomato-vegetable juice cocktail
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp Liberian pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 stuffed green olives
- Salt the rim of a tall glass. To do so, pour salt onto a small plate, moisten the rim of the glass on a damp towel and press into the salt. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
- In a cocktail mixer full of ice, combine the vodka, vegetable juice, Worcestershire sauce, Liberian pepper, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously and strain into the glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice and olives stuck onto a toothpick.
6 oz Watermelon juice or fresh watermelon
6 oz Cane juice
1 piece of Liberian pepper sliced in the center
1 oz of lime juice
½ oz of sugar syrup
Fill blender with crushed ice. Pour in lime juice, cane juice, watermelon juice or fresh watermelon, Liberian pepper, and sugar syrup. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.
Dark & Stormy (Liberian version)
2 oz Dark Rum
½ cup ice
4 oz ginger beer
4 Basil leaves
Combine rum and ginger beer in an old-fashioned glass. Add ice and stir.
Set the stage for your July 26 event by making sure you have a few Liberian flags at your venue. Creating an entrance which includes the flag is a great way to welcome your guests to the function. Besides incorporating the colors of the Liberian flag into your design scape, another fun idea is to include references of popular Liberian places or sayings.
One example of this is to simply create a sign that reads “Waterside” and placing it over the bar or beverage service area. You can also infuse small references to Liberia by incorporating a few red up-lights or red candles around your dessert display and give it a fun title like “Red Light Desserts”. Frame a few pieces of Liberian country cloth and use them as table centerpieces or accent décor around your venue.
Finally, don’t forget to capture your guest’s memories of the event by printing a photo backdrop that’s an image of Monrovia or beautiful Black and White beach in Buchanan. Provide your guests with a hashtag for the event and ask them to share the photos on social media. Including a few personalized touches will ensure that your event is the talk of the town.
Recording legends like Takun J, Friday the Cellphone Man, and Queen V have consistently made their presence felt on the Liberian music scene. The next generation of music makers, however, are reaching audiences not only in Liberia but abroad as well. With so many talented artists on the Liberian music scene, The Bush Chicken decided go to one of the hottest Liberian DJ’s and founder of the LIB record pool, DJ Chirpz, to get his input on how to keep the party live on July 26.
The 2016 Liberian Entertainment Award winner has provided his go-to mini-playlist to ensure the dance floor stays packed at your party.
Top 5 Must Play Modern LIB Music
- DJ Squeezer Feat. Eric Geso & CasiMoney – Number 9 (Remix)
- DenG – Kemah
- Skrew Faze – My Liberia (Happy Birthday)
- StarMeloD – Rude Rude Things
- Junior Freeman & African Soldier – Da My Area
Top Classic LIB Music
At the average Liberian function the food IS the activity but let’s assume you want to offer your guests a little something more for your festive occasion. This list of popular Liberian activities is sure to be a hit with old and young participants alike. If you’re hosting a cook-out make sure you have a few soccer balls on hand to allow your guests to practice their dribbling and footwork.
Having a few Ludo and checkerboards at your party is another sure-fire way to entertain your guests for a few hours.
Finally, what Liberian function would be complete without the group dance that inspired the Soul Train line, the Grand March. As mandatory at Liberian functions as the electric slide is at black American functions, the Grand March is a fantastic way to dance off some of the palm butter pounds and bring your party to a close.
Whatever you do to celebrate July 26 remember that family, friends and love of Liberia are the most important elements to enjoying this important day in our culture’s history and remember, my 26 on you!
Featured photo by Cameron Zohoori