Let's Head To The Market!
All the artisans tempted us with amazing offers for their beautiful goods, but unfortunately Abeja and I had to walk through without buying a single thing. As much as we wanted to, the thought of packing and carrying a sculpture- or even an extra piece of cloth in our already stuffed backpacks through the rest of Africa- kept us from giving in. Trust me, that's one of the hardest things about traveling like this: Seeing some of the most beautiful clothing, decorations, and bags- for less than the price of lunch and not being able to buy them!
When you turn the corner from the flowers, you enter our favorite part of any market-the food! Here again, the markets in Zimbabwe aren't as inviting as the markets in Latin America, which were always full of exotic, new fruits and savory smelling local delicacies. In Zimbabwe, the markets stick to your usual fruits and vegetables, and unprepared dried goods that you in turn have to take home to make into a local delicacy your self. The problem is, neither Abeja nor I knows how to make any of the local delicacies, we didn't even know what most of the dried stuff was- let alone what to do with it! Luckily for us, the nice vendors at the market, amused at our curiosity and ignorance, explained to us what everything was.
She is also selling something they call "round nuts" and something they call "ground nuts." I've never seen anything like round nuts in the states before- they are hard and small, more like a bean than a nut. The ground nuts, however, as it turns out, are just another word for peanuts. Did you know peanuts grow in the ground (as opposed to most other nuts, which grow on trees)? My friend Patricia made me a wonderful dish the other day out of round nuts, peanuts, and corn, boiled together for hours, then salted and served-deeeelicious! I tell Madzidzwa that we make peanut butter out of ground nuts in the U.S. Here in Zimbabwe, peanut butter is very popular too, but that's where the similarities end. A traditional Zimbabwean dish is made with cooked vegetables, rice and peanut butter-, which may sound as unappealing to you as the idea of putting peanut butter on bread with a sweet fruity spread (jam)is to them!
Abeja and I are excited to buy most of the new things we come across and take them home to experiment until we get a sack of dried, black fuzzy things that we aren't sure about. We pick up a few, examine them closer and still have no idea what they are. No they aren't pieces of grain or beans- maybe dried leaves or herbs? Nope, Madzidzwa laughs as she explains that we are actually holding worms! Dried worms from the Mupani tree! We drop them immediately and decide to pass on buying that local delicacy. She insists that they are very good when cooked and an incredible high source of protein, but we still decline. Being a vegetarian can be a great excuse sometimes!
In front of the sorghum is another dark, small grain, which looks completely unlike anything we've ever seen. It turns out to be millet! When you buy millet back home, it is small and white, but here the millet is sold still in the husk. This is then ground and also used to make sadza with. Unfortunately though, Madzidzwa does not get very good business for her sorghum and millet anymore. Nowadays, most Zimbabweans make sadza from mealie-meal. Mealie-meal is processed, pounded flakes of maize (corn) that can be bought in huge, easy to use sacks from any grocery store. All you do is add the powdered flakes and stir. Even though mealie-meal makes making sadza a much quicker and easier process, the processed corn has virtually no nutritional content and absolutely no taste. Furthermore, since corn was brought to Africa from the Americas by Portuguese colonists, the non-native crop is much more taxing on the local soils to grow.
Luckily for people who still want sadza done the old-fashioned way, people like Madzidzwa are still selling it. And luckily for us, Madzidzwa was patient enough to explain how to make it to us. So, tonight after our adventurous day in the markets of Bulawayo, Abeja and I will attempt to make up a traditional local delicacy of Zimbabwe the old fashioned way. As it turns out, Madzidzwa means 'they learn something' in Shona! Let's see just how much we really learned today! If the sadza turns into a mess of millet and sorghum-I bought a package of pasta just in case!
Monica - Elephants, Elephants Everywhere! A Visit to Hwange National Park
Making a Difference - Go and Score a Goal!
Monica - To Be, or Not to Be: The Question of Elephants at Hwange
Abeja - From 1st World to the 3rd: How Big Is Your Mess?
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