Let’s talk about food. I have been asked many times how the food was over in Malawi. At home I have a plethora of choices. Today will we have chicken or fish? Do we want sautéed veggies? Rice or pasta? How bout tacos? What about Chinese food? These are daily questions I ran threw my head when looking into my pantry. Americans are wasteful, we also buy way too much, even things we may not need or want. We buy it because it is there.
The average Malawian, even though there may be many options for food, eat to survive. Varation in food is for those who have money. Having anything left over in your pantry is for those who have money. The average pantry is completely empty. Everyone buys food just for that day and there is no left overs. Mnay homes do not have elctricity or there ar emany power outages that make having a fridgerator difficult. Now the access to get food is very simple usually a 5 minute walk from any house. The need to go to a store that is far is not the issue. Personally, I feel if the store was far, everyone would still only buy what they need because that is the culture.
The daily menu looks like, breakfast: tea, butter and bread, sometimes boiled sweet potatoes or porge (made out of NSima). One time we had popcorn and tea that was a very interesting day.
Lunch: NSima (which is corn grinded down to flour and water) with some sort of relish (usually: mustard greens, chinese cabbage, pumkin leave, tomotoes, onion and possibly beans)
Dinner: is usually very similar to lunch there maybe chicken, (usually once a week) and a different Varation to the relish as mentioned above. Other than the above mentioned options these are the meals that are made. (The fish I had is only had the campsite due to being right next to the lake different area ,different staple).
Each night at dinner we would huddle around a small coffee table. There was one bench that 3 out of the 11 people in the house could sit on. In Malawi it is custom that the vistors eat and dish out their food first. Now I know you are probally imagining big serving dishes, with alot of food. But no, these were small normal sized bowls meant to feed 11 people. Before dishing any food out a younger child in the family would have a pitcher of water and a bowl, for each person to wash their hands before eating.
Now you may think to yourself why don’t you buy other food, cook for the family, show them a different variation? This is like telling your grandmother there is a different way to make a dish, that she has prepared 80 years the same way. It just doesnt happen. Even if there is rice, pasta, anything else, everyone still wants the staples. It is what they know. I can not change that, nor do i wnat to but j can adjust. I have learned to love certain ascents of the food, and sometimes just close my eyes and eat because I’m starving. Sometimes I’m still hungry. Many times I just don’t think about it. Or sometimes I make the choice not to eat because I can not stomach the meal. Meal times are no longer an enjoyable time of the day for me.
I have learned that we eat for survival here, not for enjoyment. Maybe this is one of my many first world problems, but adjusting is never an issue. All I can think about many times is just wanting tacos. I have personal found a few hidden gems that I enjoy here, like these fried donuts (without the super sugary part) and a few good cookies. Or the fresh fries and fried chicken on the side of the road. As I choke down this sweet potato and tea, I’d rather run into the comfort of my money, but sadly others cant.
Until Next Time