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Published: April 27th 2010
Last time I wrote a blog on Malawian food, I’d only just arrived and didn’t know many of the foods available here. Looking back I don’t think I did justice to the range of foods available and missed out some I’d like to talk about.
I quite like ukumbe, these are dried flying ants/termites (not 100% sure which) their only available at the start of the rainy season around December/January time, they’re crunchy but tasty. I bought a bag in January and tried to save them by freezing them but unfortunately they went bad anyway.
Dried mice can be seen being sold, being mammals the meat is tender and sweet, usually hunted and eaten in the villages it has recently become popular in cities so they can be seen being sold in baskets on the streets.
As I mentioned last time guavas are now in season and can be seen growing everywhere, but also pineapples (K20 each for little ones), some coconuts (but not a lot), green oranges (well clementines), as well as some regional fruits that I honestly don’t know the name of but are green with white flesh and really big seeds. Avocados are made into something like guacamole, which can be spread on bread and eaten as a sandwich, though can also be sweetened and eaten like (green, lumpy) custard.
There aren’t many vegetables available at the moment because it’s the rainy season, so it’s harder to find carrots, tomatoes, onions and garlic about and it’s all more expensive when you do find them. However Cassava root is widely available for most of the year, white flesh that can be eaten raw or boiled. I quite enjoyed it for the first few weeks I was here, but when I was ill they were cooking it outside of the bathroom, so now just the smell still makes me gag, so I can’t eat it. Pumpkins are in season again boiled and then eaten. The last vegetable I’ll mention is tehrere, a green veggie that can be boiled or roasted into a relish. It can be eaten with nsima, but it’s quite difficult because the relish it makes is really, well, slimy, it’s so difficult to pick up, you need to make a well in the nsima or it just flies off.
Maize is growing everywhere at the moment (it was supposed to be earlier in the year but due to the dry weather its later than usual), including the small garden around the back of the St John offices meaning we’ve been able to boil some up at the office (even if the urn keeps shorting out the power) or pick some and take it home, we’ve also dried a load (got a blister on my thumb taking the grains off the cob). There are little orange chillies growing, they’re not horrendously hot (though still pack a punch), eaten whole or made into peri-peri sauce to go with meals, I’m going to try and bring a bag home, possibly with a bottle of Nali sauce. The son of the family I’m staying with, Dumi, keeps on trying to eat them but can’t handle the heat, so immediately has to grab for the water.
Around Mulanji there are masses of tea estates, miles of them all around the Mulanji area, fields and fields of little bushes with tea-pickers moving in between the rows picking the leaves and putting them into baskets on their backs. Good quality coffee grows around the Mzuzu area. I really like both the Mulanji tea and the Mzuzu coffee.
Still haven’t gone to that stake house.
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