Food is vital to all our lives but food is much more than simply consuming energy- it’s an experience. It’s also a question people worldwide ask- “what’s to eat today?”.
According to our correspondent, Eiko Tanaka, the answer to this question in Malawi may depend on the season in which the question is asked. With the rainy season beginning in November & harvests gathered in March & April quite often the question depends on the harvest results & future expectations.
What do Malawians eat?
Nsima- the staple dish of Malawi is made from maize flour or cassava flour and boiled with water into a porridge consistency. Rice is eaten sometimes but being more expensive is generally only eaten in the harvest season. Many people make do on 2 meals a day- lunch & an evening meal of Nsima with beans & relish (vegetables). If breakfast is eaten it is usually something quite simple.
What kind of foods can you expect to see?
Beans are a popular dish being reasonably priced. They also go well with fish –plentiful from Lake Malawi- of which the “Chambo” (type of sea bream) is exceptional. Similar to anchovies, “Usipa” when dried can be kept in storage are also popular & are enjoyed in the rural villages & mountainous areas. In addition, chicken/goat/beef/mutton/pork are served stewed in onions & tomatoes.
Malawi’s Variety of Side Dishes!
Year-round expect to see mustard leaves, okra, okra leaves, Chinese cabbage, pumpkin leaves, cassava leaves & leaves of sweet potato served. Any of these foods can be served braised in tomato & peanut flour with onions and slightly salted. A little bit more expensive but available include carrots, peppers, aubergine, cucumbers, garlic & ginger.
The below image is of cassava.
A Taste of Something Different
I’ve had wild rabbit. It tasted like soft chicken meat. Of course in some parts of Malawi they even sell mice kebabs but I haven’t plucked up the courage to try that quite yet. I’ve also heard that it is possible to get snakemeat and even elephant but I haven’t had that experience either.
Malawian Food Wisdom
Food is indeed a window into the soul and a lot can be learned from knowing more about Malawi’s favourite dishes. In the next excerpt I would like to focus on children growing up in their local food culture with a particular emphasis on education.
Seibo Look at Malawi’s Food Security
According to the latest article issued by FEWS Net (Famine Early Warning System Network) it is expected that over the period from April to September in 2018 there will be adequate food stocks at national level. However, there is always a fear that areas that experience major drought or pest damage may not fare so well. Also below-average rainfall in the rainy season just gone (November-April) was lower than previous years leading to concerns for future food stockpiles.
Whenever food is spoken of in Malawi due concern must be given to the provisions stored away in the previous harvest as well as the potential for the current harvest.
Seibo takes all these conversations into consideration to ensure that together with the people of Malawi we work towards a better future for all.