Malawi : Food

Well, we’ve been home a week or so now and it seems almost surreal to me that I was in Africa 10 days ago.  Putting together a presentation for the Texas Beekeepers Association about our trip last week, made me miss those sweet smiling faces, the cool weather and our amazing hosts (Chifundo & Lucy)!!

I covered many highlights from our trip, but I really did not go into detail about the food, and I wanted to go back and do that.  So if you are wondering what the food was like, maybe you are considering going with us next year, this should help answer your questions!!

First, we ate very well.  We had breakfast of fried potatoes (fries) and eggs, and usually some vegetable with it.  Its good to remember that Americans are the really the only people with designated breakfast food, most other countries just eat regular food for breakfast.

We normally ate lunch where ever we were and this was rice or Ncima.  Ncima is their “bread” – it is a staple food that they use to eat the other items in their meal.  This is a corn flour that is added to water and is boiled – so it makes a thick dough but not really a cooked dough like bread that we are used to.  You get a serving of this, then you take a piece of it and work it in your hand then use it to scoop up your other food.

Jacob told me about Ncima (sounds like inseam), but it was not what I expected – based on what Jacob said I came up with what I thought he said in my head – it was not accurate.  There is not a lot of flavor with Ncima – which is why relish (their word for sauce, gravy, meat, other stuff on your plate) is so important.  The Ncima takes on the flavors of the other food.

We ate a lot of goat, and it was good.  It did not taste like goat, and trust me I have had good goat and bad goat over here, so when I say it did not taste goaty, I mean it.  We also had beef several times.  Both the goat and beef were cuts of meat with the bones still present – so that added flavor to the recipe as well.  Then there were lots of spices and onions and tomatoes, etc.  This made the gravy, but they call this relish.

If we did not have Ncima, and sometimes when we did we had rice – only when we had forks thought, and the relish on the rice was always very good.  Lucy cut up vegetables and kind of sautéed them together quickly so they were tender crisp and very good.  I loved her green beans the most!  One morning she cooked up vegetables in a light egg batter – kind of like you get at a Japanese restaurant – tempura style and these were AMAZING – another of my favorites.

Dinner was usually very late so it was sometimes left overs from the day or the previous day.  One day we had Chomba – which is a local fish they catch in Lake Malawi.  It was very good – lots of bones, but they were big and easy to avoid.  I would love to eat more chomba next time!

Then there is chicken.  Lovely chicken.  When I say we saw chickens and goats in every village, I mean EVERY village.  The funny thing is I don’t think the local people have any fondness for them.  I loved seeing the hens with their chicks and the goat families!  It was a reminder of home for me.  One village sent us home with a hen and rooster as a gift to Lucy & Chifundo.  We heard that rooster crow the next morning very early and for a while.  Then no more.  We did not think anything of it.  Did not ask any questions.  But for lunch we saw them again!

We enjoyed a chicken meal – with the feet in the pot and another surprise.  As we were eating, Jacob had his food and was about to take a bite and looked a little closer only to realize that the piece he had was the chicken HEAD!!  Crazy! He passed on that and found another piece to eat!

In town there is a pizza place (Pizza Inn) that is buy 1 get 1 on Tuesday night, so we did enjoy a meal there one night and even got ice cream (soft serve) from Steers – think Burger King.  It was a fun treat!

Another favorite that we saw everyone eating was sugar cane – they sell this everywhere!  I do not have a photo of the bikes loaded with it – but we saw them everywhere.  Finally a day or two before we left we got our hands on some and they cut it up for us.  The locals have super strong teeth – so they can chew/bite pieces off – but not us soft Americans.  It was very good – sweet but not like I expected – more like fruit juice sweet.  You chew it up and spit it out.

So that is a little about our food adventures over there.  I did not lose any weight over there.  Maybe it was my 17 year old snack addict that kept telling me I had to try this or that.  Or maybe it was the sodas they sell over there that are very good and so much better than the ones over here.  One big plus was no high fructose corn syrup in stuff.   I hate that stuff, so was happy it was missing from ingredient lists!!

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