When Dorcas Young moved from rural Botswana to Whidbey Island in 1996, one of her greatest challenges was finding the foods she had eaten as a child growing up on her family’s 500-acre produce and livestock farm.
After searching high and low, she decided to grow her own. But the Kalahari Desert is a far cry from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and it took several experiments—and a greenhouse addition—before old favorites, such as South African kale, managed to survive.
What Young did harvest found its way to the Whidbey farmers’ market in 2007, where curious customers began inquiring about how best to prepare her unique produce. Those inquiries spawned a new venture: Lesedi Farm Bites of Botswana, which has Young cooking at the market, serving up African food accompanied by a collection of traditional Botswanan sauces.
The sauces soon received the most attention, from the sweet, nutty profile of her pumpkin seed sauce ($8.50), perfect for salads and wraps, to the assertive spice in her peri-peri sauce ($8), ideal for grilled meats and fried foods.
You now can buy bottles of all four flavors, including sesame amaranth ($8.50) and mango ($8), along with Young’s kale chips and beet chips, at Sno-Isle Natural Foods Co-op in Everett, the Goosefoot Cash Store in South Whidbey or online ($8; dafricanfood.com).