I could easily write a ten volume series on all the edible endeavors so far. I knew I loved food before I came here. Now I think I should just bleach and spike my hair. Then I’ll call my twin Guy Feiri and we’ll travel the Malawian countryside.
Eating with my hands is a technique that I had to get used to, especially with no napkins around. Nsima is a porridge that is squished and shaped like play doe and dipped in sauces. It is made of corn flour and is the main staple food in Malawi. We eat it almost every day. It’s weird but I enjoy eating it more with my hands then with a fork.
I’ll share my best and worst food experiences so far…
Mbuzi, nsima, nyemba, and masamba
Translation- Goat, thick maize porridge, beans, and greens
It’s usually boiled/grilled (with bones) first with a little oil. While a mixture of onions, tomatoes, and a little curry seasoning is sautéed separately. Then the two are combined to make a saucy goat surprise! Might sound a little unappetizing but even the bone marrow tastes nice.
The fish is various in size and flavor. I think I like butterfish and chambo the most. They’re cooked whole so there’s a lot of work involved as to not swallow the bones. It’s worth it though…sometimes.
I love how straightforward and yet flavorful the food is here. I keep thinking there must be secret ingredients.
Produce like corn, pumpkins, sweet potato, and cassava are simply boiled and eaten as is! At first I really wanted to make a little side sauce or topping but now I love the simple method!
Maize sausage and pumpkin
There is another meal that I’ve come to love, even though it’s meant for kids. Oops! Phala, or porridge is a mixture of corn, penuts, and soy beans (and I think rice but I’m not positive). The ingredients are ground up at the mill to make a flour. Then I believe it is added boiling water until it thickens.
I add sugar and sometimes peanut butter. Let’s just say that when Joy is “too full” or “not interested,” I do her a favor and finish her phala. Or I get a big bowl of it and say to myself, “oh shoot I got too much, better not let it go to waste!”
Another delightful experience is having eggs during any meal! They’re usually scrambled in oil(more oil than I would think to use, but it’s good!) then added to the same type of tomato sauce made with most meats. “Soya meat” which I’m pretty sure is a similar concept of tofu, is sometimes added to the eggs as well. This mixture with beans and rice is messy perfection. Basically a Mexican scramble!
Grilled quail with chopped tomatoes and peppers on the side is sooo good. Plus you just eat the bones so it’s a time saver!
Chips (French fries) with tomato/cabbage is a meal I can count on.
Manyina (probably not spelled right) is boiled cows feet and legs. It’s really strange looking. I was very hesitant to try, although it wasn’t bad! Despite the hooves and some hairs still intact Thank goodness I had a cold bubbly beverage to go with it!
Thank goodness there are papaya(my fav) trees in our yard, and they’re almost ready to pick!!
Can’t forget sugar cane!
Worst food experiences-
Usipa- dried, dried, and more dried fish! Blah! The smell, the taste, the overly salty experience. I had some of the same kind of fish fresh and fried which was great. It’s just the shriveled for days fish that I can’t handle. Especially after the fridge has been broken for a week. Let’s just say I’ve been choosing the vegetarian option lately.
Gizzards, hearts, innards, livers, mystery meat, whatever you want to call them. They’re just not for me!
Awkward experience as a guest: Having to drink a full glass of room temperature liquid made of water, corn flour, and ground seeds. It was a challenge to “enjoy” it without gagging. I learned how to make it too. As it turns out, there is so much effort that goes into what tastes like pancake batter.
Of course it’d be harsh to just say,
“Oh sorry I can’t stand the only beverage you make and take pride in!” So I managed to grin and bear it!
Those are the only “hardships” I’ve faced as far as food goes! So I’m clearly fine.
I’ve enjoyed doing a lot of baking with all the tropical ingredients available. So far I’ve made mango bread, mango bread pudding, guava bread, coconut/jam bread cookies, and banana cake. So yeah, can’t say I’m suffering! Even pancakes and French toast were firsts for my family so that was fun to share! The biscuits, or cookies, that are sold here are dangerously addictive. My favorite are lemon cream filled. Mm yes..
Nsima, chimanga- roasted corn, bananas, cassava, pineapple, fries (duh!), goat, and fish- fish heads especially!! Couldn’t believe the first day she ate 4 small fried fish heads in a row, and specifically pulled out the eyes to eat first.
Some more pictures