The Sprouting State and Sustenance of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa, has seen a dramatic decline in recent years and is now regarded as the basket case of Africa. Formerly Rhodesia, this landlocked African country has long been blighted by political upheaval and as a result extreme poverty is widespread. Hyperinflation has sent the cost of living spiraling out of control making purchasing even the most essential foodstuffs out of reach for most.
How then does the country get by?
The staple diet in Zimbabwe is sadza (locally cooked maize with a porridge-like consistency) and this is often eaten with bowara (pumpkin leaves). For some special occasions, when enough money is saved, chicken or beef can be accompanied with sadza. It can be slightly bland on its own so adding extra spice is always goes down well – fiery sauces are traditional and very popular in African food.
It is Zimbabwe’s crops that are becoming crucial to the growth of the country, with maize being sewn in vast quantities across rural communities. In fact, Zimbabwe guards one of the largest expanses of unfarmed vegetation in the world – making it a prime location for growth and prosperity in the future.
Other crops, such as squash, yams, pumpkins, oranges, peanuts, cucumbers and mapopo (papaya) all flourish during the summer and autumn months – but can often be tragically destroyed in the dry winter months where drought is common. In order to preserve food, Zimbabweans dry various produce and meats after the rainy season.
It is unsurprising that some of the countries real culinary treats are not found in Zimbabwean restaurants. Instead, head out to the streets, fields and markets where all kinds of offbeat edibles are on offer. Tiny dried fish called kapenta are a delicate and common snack, as is biltong, the sun-dried specialty of salted meat cut into strips similar to beef jerky.
During the summer months, open-air markets sell dried mopane worms (spiny caterpillars) and flying ants by the pound. Both can be eaten fried and are said to taste chewy and salty. Flying ants fly in dense clouds around any source of light during the summer, and can be eaten live. The wings are torn off, then the bodies are eaten and have a surprisingly buttery taste.
With so much rich potential and resources, Zimbabwe must at some stage open its doors and blossom economically on the back of mass-food production. But before it does, it is the customs that feed a suffering nation that make for a truly unique African Zimbabwe experience.
Author Bio: Hugo Davison is widely travelled and doesn’t plan to stop soon. He lives and works in the city of London and sits down to write wherever and whenever he can. He is now working on his first fictional novel.