It is extremely easy to get some foods in country, and simply impossible to get other foods. For instance, I can literally open my kitchen window and pick a papaya from my tree and maybe a few bananas. There are avocados, and mangos, and every other type of fruit tree within 100 meters of my house. However, other food products such as meats and dairy are nearly impossible to get. The rule is if you own the animal, raise the animal and kill the animal that you can eat the animal. I became physically ill when we killed a chicken in class, so there’s really no chance in hell I’ll see meat in country.
The concept of grocery stores has not trickled into Malawi. I actually know the location of the only TWO grocery stores in country. Otherwise, you just have to hike it to the outdoor markets, which are usually only open once or twice a week. There you can purchase tomatoes, onions, bread, rice, and some other very, very basic foodstuffs.
I’ve already realized the getting any protein in my diet will be very difficult. With the exception of eggs and beans there are no real protein options.
Addendum: Since writing this I have discovered “soya pieces,” which are dehydrated chunks of soy meat that you can soak until the consistency of cat food, fry up, and enjoy! If anyone would like to try them I would be more than happy to mail you some.
Cooking in this country is certainly not for the weak or lazy. It seems like meals take twice the time and effort here; microwaves are just a far, far away dream to me. On the bright side of things, it is challenging my kitchen creativity and has certainly lowered by expectations of a “real meal” which often consists of bread with an avocado spread on it and a hard boiled egg, or rice, rice and more rice. Oh carbs…
Addendum #2: Every week I become more and more adventurous in the kitchen attempting things like cheese making, pizza, tuna casserole, pumpkin soup, etc.
But, there is a serious lack of flavor here. We take for granted how many spices and sauces we use in our cooking. Malawians flavoring techniques involve deep-frying in oil, and then salting it until you can feel your mouth pucker. For those of you that are familiar with my eating habits you may be wondering why I would have a problem with this. But when I say they add salt, they literally will add a half-cup of salt to three servings of rice. Sometimes the food is flat out inedible.
This post was a little long winded so I’ll save my talk on “anxiety meat” until next time.
Malawians only eat two meals a day so they really make those meals count. This is a picture of what they gave me, just me, to eat for dinner one night. Needless to say, now one of my favorite phrases is "American's have very small stomachs."