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Published: November 21st 2009
Maize is the main staple of Malawi. Made into a dish called nsima, that i'm trying to learn how to make at the moment, it’s rolled into balls by hand and dipped into a meat and vegetable relishes. It’s also made into porridge for breakfast, sweetened with sugar and milk, and the traditional bread. Maize is also used to make a drink called Thobwa, this makes it yoghurty and kind of gritty, however is improved once it’s sweetened up, it‘s thirst quenching and more refreshing than I’d have thought. Aside from maize the other staples are rice and potatoes. I’m still trying to find noodles.
There is a range of meats available, most usually beef and chicken, though goat and pork are about, pork being less common due to the Muslim population. There are plenty of fish from the lake, in particular Chombe, specific to Malawi, usually baked or roasted, it’s nice. I’ve been scaling and gutting fish, which I’ve not done before, it’s interesting but stinks and I tend to butcher the fish.
There are plenty of fruit and vegetables around, with people are selling them at the side of the road everywhere. What, depends on the season; tomatoes, chillies (hurts to try and eat on their own) and banana’s are available most of the year, with mangoes and popo (papaya) just coming into the season, that will last until January (there’s so many mangoes available at the moment and their so cheap , I could eat them until I’m sick of them and probably will). After the mangos there are guavas later on in the year. There is also sugar cane on sale, which cut from large stalks down to a smaller bundle. Takes a while to prepare, removing the bark, cutting into bite-size chunks, it is sweet (obviously) and juicy but doesn’t last long and leaves you with a mouthful of fibres to get rid of.
There are many restaurants about, from little cafes and stands in the market, that we go to for lunch, that serve cheep and nice meals for under £2, to fried chicken, Chinese, and pizza places. There is a steak house in the middle of Blantyre I’d like to try at some point. However this is one of the main cities and outside in the country side there are far less options. Small packages with a samosa, sausage roll or meat pie, and a small cake or biscuit are available from the road side cheaply but these generally aren’t enough for a full meal.
Soft drinks most are supplied by coca-cola, with coke, fanta (orange, pineapple and passion) and sprite available, though there is also cocopina (pineapple) and cherry-plum drinks from southern bottlers (so-bo). Bottles are available in most shops, fairly priced but have a bottle deposit attached so that their brought back, which makes it somewhat annoying having to bring a bottle or two with you to the supermarket for when you get thirsty. In terms of alcohol there are plenty of bottlestores around and bottles are available from the supermarkets. Most of the beer available is Carlsberg, brewed in Blantyre, which comes in 4 forms, Original, Special Brew, Stout and Elephant (and at the moment a weird Christmas brew), though there are another brands, including more traditional Malawian brews made from maize. There are stronger drinks also, possibly the most popular being Malawian Gin, a more aromatic version of normal gin, but there is also Vodka, and coffee liqueur. I haven’t yet had the chance to try any, or in fact to have a drink at all.
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