Friday, May 25, 2018

West African Ginger Drink and "A Divination of Death"

Agatha- and Macavity Award-nominated author, Edith Maxwell, is here making ginger drinks and pairing them with her fabulous short story in this year's Malice Domestic anthology, Mystery Most Geographical. Edith writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she writes the popular Country Store Mysteries and the new Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. 

A mother and world traveler, Maxwell is president of Sisters in Crime New England. She lives north of Boston with her beau, two elderly cats, and an impressive array of garden statuary. She blogs at,, and Under the Cover of Midnight
Read about all her personalities and her work at

West African Ginger Drink
This refreshing ginger drink is made all over West Africa. In one of the languages of Burkina Faso, where “A Divination of Death” is set, the drink is called Gnamakoudji (pronounced nya-ma-KOO-ji). Ginger can be very spicy, and helps to cool one on a hot day. When you make this drink, sweeten and dilute to your own taste. 

Twenty years ago I lived in Burkina Faso for a year with my husband and two school-age sons. Burkina is an extremely poor land-locked country in West Africa. We met an American woman doing doctoral research on fortune tellers in the countryside to the southwest of the capital, Ouagadougou. When she invited me sans famille (that is, just me) to come and visit for a week, I jumped at the chance. I visited traditional diviners with her, asked lots of questions, and soaked up the atmosphere. I’m delighted to finally see my first crime fiction set Burkina in print.

Here is the anthology’s intro to “A Divination of Death.” In a country where divination is a part of daily life, the solution to the death of a young man may depend on a dying statement and a fortune-teller’s ritual. Find the story on page 251 of Malice Domestic 13: Mystery Most Geographical (Wildside Press, April 2018).


1/2 pound fresh unpeeled ginger root, grated
Just-boiled water, as needed to cover
4 limes, juiced
1 cup white sugar, to taste
7 cups water, or as needed
16 leaves fresh mint, crushed

Place grated ginger into a bowl and cover with hot water. Cover bowl with a plate and let steep for at least an hour. Strain into cheesecloth in a colander over another bowl or pitcher. Squeeze juice from ginger pulp into a pitcher, leaving the ginger pulp as dry as possible.

Stir lime juice and half the sugar into ginger juice until sugar has dissolved. Taste, and add more sugar as desired.

Dilute with cold water to taste, stir to combine, and serve garnished with crushed mint leaves. Adding a dose of rum or whiskey would not be remiss if you like cocktails!