Thursday, February 21, 2013

Art and Food Pairing™: NEGUS in Paris and Le Dogon

After a considerable hiatus, I am pleased to present a new Art and Food Pairing™ for the Entrée to Black Paris blog. Today's article presents a description of a marvelous exhibit at a beautiful space and a wonderful meal at an African restaurant near Place de la République.

The exposition is called NEGUS in Paris. It is being shown at the Backslash Gallery in the 3rd arrondissement and features the work of African-American artist Fahamu Pecou. It opened on January 10, 2013.

Backslash Gallery Façade
© Discover Paris!

NEGUS in Paris is the second show that Blackslash Gallery has mounted for Pecou. This solo exposition is inspired by Jay-Z and Kanye West’s song “Niggas in Paris” and some of the lyrics of the song are displayed on the walls of the gallery. Pecou replaces the “n-word” with the word “Negus” – an Amharic word used to describe Ethiopian royalty in general and the late Haile Selassie in particular - in the titles of his works. The œuvres in this exposition feature numerous representations of the artist depicted as cover art for various publications that have been launched to promote black pride and solidarity in the U.S. and in France. Additional works present the likenesses of African-American personas such as Nina Simone and Melvin van Peebles on the t-shirts worn by the artist:

View of the Exposition
© Discover Paris!

Real NEGUS Don't Die - Young, Gifted, and Black
© Discover Paris!

This exposition will close on February 23, 2013, so if you are in Paris you should hurry to see it! To learn about Pecou’s first exposition at Backslash Gallery – Hard 2 Death – click here.

Only a few minutes walk away from the gallery is the Malian restaurant Le Dogon. There are a few tables downstairs across from the bar, but the majority of customers dine upstairs in a colorfully decorated dining room that is both open and intimate. A large fish tank effectively divides the room into two areas while allowing visual contact that preserves the feeling of openness.

Le Dogon - Façade
© Discover Paris!

Le Dogon - Upstairs Dining Room
© Discover Paris!

We were heartily welcomed when my husband and business partner Tom and I lunched there prior to visiting the art expo at Backslash Gallery. Our server was courteous and generous with his responses to our questions about items on the menu that were unfamiliar to us. I ordered a punch gingembre and Tom ordered a cocktail à la base de vin de palme (palm wine) as apéritifs. I loved the fresh, spiked ginger juice while Tom was less satisfied with the flavor of his drink.

As appetizers, I ordered boulettes de mouton (mutton meatballs) and Tom ordered maïs grillé au beurre (grilled corn on the cob with butter). My “meatballs” were oblong instead of round and contained a thin core of fresh, chopped parsley. Served with a sauce prepared from ground sesame seeds, they were tender, not at all greasy, and wonderfully flavorful. Tom’s ear of corn was blackened – it had been cooked directly on a grill without the husk. One can often see vendors cooking corn this way in the Château Rouge district of Paris. Tender and flavorful, it was served with a generous slice of butter.

Boulettes de Mouton
© Discover Paris!

For the main course, I ordered poulet piment specialité Dogon (spicy chicken – the house special), which turned out to be a chicken leg cooked in a lightly spiced tomato-based sauce containing bell pepper and onion. Tom ordered a dish called Mohamba – chicken served with pulverized manioc leaves in a peanut-based sauce. This is a Malian/Congolese specialty. Both dishes were served with fluffy, perfectly cooked short-grain rice.

Poulet Piment - Specialité Dogon
© Discover Paris!

I ordered jus de bissap (homemade hibiscus juice) and Tom ordered Mongozo beer (a banana-flavored beer with African roots that is brewed in Belgium) to accompany our main dishes.

Jus de Bissap
© Discover Paris!

Both of us were utterly delighted with our selections and vowed to return to this restaurant for dinner!

Backslash Gallery
29, rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth
75003 Paris
Metro: République (Lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11)
Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 AM – 7 PM

Le Dogon
30, rue René Boulanger
75010 Paris
Metro: République (Lines 3, 5, 8, 9, 11)
Open Monday through Friday 12 noon – 3 PM and 7 PM – midnight; Saturday 7 PM – midnight


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