Thursday, October 1, 2009


There is a saying, “This is the best thing since sliced bread”. In my opinion sliced bread is the best thing. There is a very common chain grocery store called “People’s” that has a bread bakery which bakes massive amounts of bread. In the evening, People crowd in at the bakery counter, waiting for the bread to finish baking. I call this “rush hour”. When I am in town, I make it a point to buy a loaf. Bread is a treasured novelty that “Peoples” has now made available in the local towns; it can possibly be compared to the opening of a new restaurant in America – a really good restaurant.
Imagine the excitement at discovering such a simple, already cooked food: bread. Unfortunately most of the bread is white (I prefer whole wheat). I am lucky that bread is sold here in my trading center. I don’t have a “Peoples’s”, so the bread is not that fresh; they buy it in the city and bring it back to sell. I was so excited to find bread in the store, and you can understand when you consider the convenience of bread compared with the energy required to cook nsima.
The Malawian diet has very little variety, nsima is the staple food, and for side dishes they have greens, eggs, beans, or fish, and they put tomatoes and onions in everything. I can’t complain, I have enjoyed the challenge of learning how to cook and be creative with these foods. I have slowly been perfecting the art of cooking nsima; it has to be the perfect consistency so that it can be eaten with the hands. My night guard has had the privilege of testing my efforts. Unfortunately, Malawian’s have a hard time being creative when cooking; they are content to eat the same food for every meal. Of course there are those who do not have a choice and are lucky to even have food. I have realised one major difference between Americans and others: most Americans eat for pleasure whereas others eat to live. I realise that everyone must eat to live, but the mindset is very different when food is such a scarce thing.

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