Dining in Malawi – and recipies

15 Feb

Dining in Malawi – When you see food, buy food, fool.

When pausing for a coke at 11am, and seeing chips being fried on the side of the road, I made the mistake of deciding to ride ‘just another few km, stop for lunch in an hour’. 2 long and hungry hours later, after riding alongside the open Nkhotakota National Park, I see 20 hutstalls, or dukas, and 1 or 2 of them are open.

The brick and mud villages lining the roads remind me of the last dregs of a music festival. Everybody has left. Empty beers and straw litter the torn muddy ground, music carries on pumping from somewhere behind the deserted stalls, and a small crowd are still hanging around, selling the last of their stock, or drinking, unable to leave.

I try my luck at finding some lunch.

-Do you know where there is a restaurant?
-Yes.
-Where?
-Yes.
-Rice? Chicken?
-Yes.
-Where is rice? F***ing never mind. Thankyou.
Try the next guy
-I am looking for rice. For lunch.
-Ah lunch. No rice.
-Chips?
-Yes, chips.
-OK great
Long story short, 10 minutesof haggling over the price of onions and eggs later…
-Oh, no chips.
-Right, thankyou. Bye.
Ride another 5km and come across a bigger trading station, or village on a crossroads.
-Hi, do you speak English?
-No.
-Ok, where is food? For lunch?
-Habna (don’t have)
-No rice? No chicken? No chips?
-No.
-No… nsima?
-No. Only boiled eggs. Over there.
Ride over, ready to eat a dozen boiled eggs.
-Do you have boiled eggs?
-No.
-What can I eat?
-…
By now there’s a half dozen adults and about 20 kids following me around.
-Ok. You eat lunch. He eats lunch. These children, they eat. Where do they eat?
-Ah, you might find food there, he finished cooking.

At 3pm I finally find a man who can. We buy eggs, tomatoes and bread and I sit in his hut while he boils water for boiled eggs and tea.

The children hassle and stare a lot in this trading town. Piling at the hatch and door, hissing for attention, asking for money, drink and generally blocking my view of the bike. I’m hungry enough to loose my cool.

I keep my head down and write while they pester. Occasionally shouting at them to move away so I can see my bike.

6 eggs, half a loaf of bread and a litre of sugary tea* later and my sense of humour returned tangibly.

I tell the kids I’m their new english teacher and we go through some basics, so that the next time a hungry cyclist passes through, the urge to kick these staring hissing kids will be slightly lessened by way of simple conversation. I’m not sure I managed to get anything across to them though.

The common language in Malawi is Chichewa. When someone leaves you say pitani bwino, literally ‘go well’, when you’re the one leaving you say tsala bwino, literally ‘stay well’. It’s a good farewell for leaving limbo.

*6 heaped tablespoons, or 1/3 of the cup, of sugar. 4 of these a day (easily done), with a few cokes, and ironically you could return to Europe with the disease of prosperity – diabetes!

 

Recipies of Malawi

Breakfast – Rice and relish a.k.a. The Gut Rupturer

For the rice – Boil up some rice.

For the relish, find a bone. If there’s a scrap of meat on the bone, all the better. Mash up the bone into tiny rice sized pieces with a mallet. You’re aiming for a nice, spiky, gut rupturing consistency. Mix in with the rice and garnish with 4 pieces of boiled artery and meat to serve.

Lunch – Nsima a.k.a. The Tastelesstiest Lump of White You Can Bite

Laboriously pound maize and cassava with a giant pestle and mortar until you have a fine white powder. Put the powder in a pot and place on hot coals. Mix well with water for approx. 30 mins. With a large spoon, shape the now scoldingly hot mixture into balls that weigh between 1 and 2 kg. Serve 2 or 3 of these balls per person. Serve piping hot, otherwise will go rock solid (should always be eaten with hands).

When making the side dishes that accompany the 3kg portion of nsima always remember, less is more. Boil at most 10g of pumpkin leaves, and arrange in the shape of a thimble. Then heat up 5 or maybe 6 beans and serve these accompaniments on separate sections of your tin TV tray. Also goes well with a fried fish head.

NB: For those diners who insist on tasting something, provide plenty of salt.

Dinner – Fried goats intestines and chips a.k.a. The Double Over

Fry chips in cooking oil.

For the goats intestines, buy some goats intestines, fry them up. This is best done after dark on a coalfire so that the tubes look even more delicious/anonymous.

 

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