Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

America to Zim: Let's Eat!

posted by Leila Z. on

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Those of you who have spent, oh, five minutes with me will know that I care a lot about food. So what is food like here, and how am I faring? Read on:


Breakfast is a fairly modest meal here. In Harare, breakfast has been either eggs (hard boiled or scrambled) and possibly some bread, along with tea. I brought some ginger tea with me, which I've only had a couple of times because I've felt too hot to drink tea; Zimbabweans tend to drink either black or rooibos tea extremely well fortified with sugar. The last couple of days I've had "oats porridge", or oatmeal, with raisins and sugar and fresh mangos (the last two my additions). 

In Nyamweda, we ate hard-boiled eggs and corn porridge. I started trying to doctor the porridge as above (but with apples and almonds instead), but found that after a couple days I couldn't face corn porridge every day. For me, it was just too similar to the sadza that I was eating for (virtually every) other meal. Mai Lasson and Caution were very concerned when I stopped eating porridge, and engaged in a high-pressure campaign to make me eat more (of everything, but especially porridge).


Traditionally, I think people here tend to eat only two meals: a late breakfast (after working for a few hours) and the main meal late in the evening (after sundown). In Harare we have followed this schedule; in Nyamweda Mai Lasson (concerned that we weren't eating enough?) would prepare a smaller main meal usually consisting of rice and nyama (meat of some kind) along with some combination of tomato sauce, butternut squash, hard-boiled eggs, white bread with margarine, or boiled chibage (starchy corn). 

Say hello to your dinner: Caution and Mai Lasson with our daily nyama, a male guinea fowl

Dinner usually is centered on sadza, a polenta-like preparation of white corn meal flour called upfu (traditionally sadza would be made from finger millet, but this is less common these days). Added to this would be things like nyama and chopped stewed (kale-like) greens. Mai Pasi (Fradreck's wife) tends to include more sauces and vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc) -- she's an amazing cook and her father worked as a professional chef to a Catholic bishop. He even once cooked for the Pope! In Nyamweda, sometimes we would also have things like crickets (by Joseph's request, who is really into that sort of thing) and eggs (I have had a few five-eggs days here!). 

Sadza is normally eaten with your hands; because of this, it is customary to bring a basin and a cup of water to wash your hands before eating (even when not eating sadza). Also, to be polite, before eating you must clap your hands and thank the cook by saying "pamusoroi" (the cook answers by saying "ewoi" or "idyai zhenyu"... Or "eat!"). After eating, you again thank the cook by clapping and saying "taguta, maita basa" ("I'm full, thank you"), and she responds with "munotendai" (don't mention it).

Finally, I'm sad to report that there are not many sweets in a Zimbabwean diet -- I've had to supplement from my own chocolate stash. The food is pretty good here -- but I am looking forward to getting home to my oven! :)

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