We’ve been here for about 6 years now, and I was reflecting today that theres just some stuff that we take for granted. Things we don’t even see as unusual. Today, I spent the morning at a “Sadaka” – it’s a remembrance ceremony for some who has recently died. This was a Sadaka 40 days after the death and it really involved everybody getting together for a meal. So at about 9:30 we ate quite a substantial meal!
I thought I could explain to you the different dishes in the above photograph… keeping in mind Sadaka’s are quite lavish and there is far more meat here than would be in a normal day to day diet. The first, and most important dish is the ugadi. It is the white stuff almost finished in the purple plate and a mound of it in orange plate. This is the staple carbohydrate of Yawo people, and of most Sub-Saharan Africans. It is just maize flour cooked with water to make a stiff, hot paste. It’s really a carrier of flavours as itself doesn’t have too much flavour. Yawo people will eat ugadi up to 3 times a day, and certainly at least once a day… and their capacity to eat large amounts of it is astounding. Most Yawo people could eat half a plate (of what you see here)… I struggle to eat a third.
In two of the green bowls there is a goat stew. Goat and chicken are the mot commonly eaten meats here, and goat is my favourite to eat at these events. I think they just cook it with a bit of oil, water and salt (lots of salt), but it tastes pretty good with the ugadi. Maybe they throw some onions and tomatoes in as well. The chicken is usually cooked the same way… although often cooked the day before and left in the pot on the dirt to be served the next day! We are developing some pretty good Gut flora!
The other things that is serves at these events is rice… often coloured orange by adding some tomato paste and topped, in this case, by some fried fish. The fish here on the rice is little mackerel that comes into Mozambique frozen from Angola (I think Angola as they are all Portuguese speaking). Then at the back of the photo there is just plain white rice topped with beans. Usually the rice is eaten second after the ugadi but every now and then someone doesn’t like ugadi and will tuck into the rice first and demolish it!
There was another dish today that I haven’t had before – catfish. Lake Malawi (close by as the crow flies) has heaps of catfish. This was really quite nice – had a similar texture to tuna and tasted really good. Im not sure I’ll ever see it again here but if I do I will get stuck in sooner.