To make up for my last excessively negative post, something more fun (with pictures!) Maize is the staple starch here, eaten for nearly every meal by most people even in urban areas. The staple comes in the form of 50 pound bags of ground corn, either coarse ground “mealie-meal” or fine “breakfast meal”. The mealie-meal is the consistency of cornmeal; Mama Turner makes cornbread from it sometimes.
But talk about making bread from mealie-meal and you’ll get some very strange looks from the locals (“Crazy azungus, making bread from maize”). Here, they eat maize meal in two forms: as porridge, typically for breakfast, or as nshima. The latter is a thick, slightly sticky product made by boiling the meal, removing it from the heat source (a wood fire in the village), and folding in more meal using a wooden spoon until it is the right consistency. The glutinous mixture, similar in consistency to sticky rice, is dipped out with a large spoon and served in single person servings.
- Nshima is typically served with a vegetable and protein of some variety. Cabbage and rape (a dark leafy green) are in season now, and beans or fish are common proteins. Sometimes tomato sauce or another relish will be served alongside the basics.
- To eat the nshima, you pinch off a piece and roll it into a ball in one hand.
- You can press a divet into the ball to help scoop up the relishes.
- Eat your fill. It sits heavy, but as my mother says, “You gotta have starch!”