Friday, November 16, 2007

In the Villages -African Cooking

In Africa, where you live makes a big difference in how you live. In the larger towns and cities, there is electricity and running water. In the villages, life is much simpler and more basic. This blog combines life in the Namibian fishing village and a Zambian agricultural village.

In the villages, cooking is done outside over an open fire. During the dry season it is outside under the sky. In the rainy season there are special huts with a large opening and perhaps an open area between the thatch and the brick. This is at the fishing village. Note the water bucket:

Notice the drying rack at the Zambian agricultural village:

Homemade charcoal is also a fuel source.

There is a big business of taking wood, partially burning it and then selling it as charcoal.

I saw these "portable" stoves several places. Linda's neighbor's daughter carried one over to the school one morning to get coals for their morning breakfast fire. At the women's shelter at the hospital in Kolomo these were the cook fires for the women camped there to care for their loved ones in the hospital.

In the fishing village, the water table was near the surface. This hand dug well provided the water for the village.

When I think of this woman drawing water, I appreciate the new water tower going up near my house. I can see it from my front porch. It is not pretty, but . . . it is a symbol that I can turn on the tap and get my water.

On one level, this water looks unappealling. But notice how clear it is . . . And it is probably cleaner and safer than the river water nearby.

Some in Zambia have bore holes that go down to deeper water sources. Some have large hand pumps (think long pipe as lever for pumping). I've even heard of one that has a merry-go-round. The children play and pump water at the same time. The water still has to be hauled by the people back to their homes. Most do not have oxen, so they carry the water sometimes what would be a long distance for us.

However, one village has to take oxcarts several miles to the river, fill their jugs, and haul the water back to the village. I understand they are next in line for a borehole.

In Zambia, the food staple is nshima. Nshima is made from white corn (maize) ground and cooked until it has a consistency that you can make a ball and eat it with your fingers. There is a ceremony to pour water over your hands to clean them before eating. They eat it morning, noon, and night. It can be served with their staple vegetable (rape greens) and sometimes with chicken. Rape looks and tastes a lot like mustard greens, but in David's garden it is easy to see that it is in the broccoli-cabbage family.

They also cook dried Tanganyika sardines, called kapenta. They are very small and you buy them by the bag. They're a little crunchy even after they've been cooked. And, of course, served with nshima.

Bon Appetite!

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