Friday, April 16, 2010

All Things Malawian

I Love Malawian Food

Maize is a Malawian staple and it seems like it is provided at every meal.  The other night a traditional Malawian meal of Sema, Diwo and Fatelli was made for us. 
Sema = Maize flour made into a porridge with only water which is then made thicker by adding more flour to a make very thick consistency that can be rolled in your hand and used for dipping.  Kind’ve like a Thumbprint cookie.
Diwo = Pumpkin leaves stewed with a bit of flour and salt – this is called relish.
Fatelli = Sweet potatoes cooked and mashed with sugar (not sure what else is put into it). 

So you roll a small ball of Sema, press your thumbprint in the middle to make an indentation which is then used to scoop/dip in the Diwo.  I know it doesn’t sound like much but it is very good – well I like it anyway… Sydney not so much.  By-the-way all of this is eaten with our fingers.  Malawians eat their food with their hands and not with utensils.
Oupha is a breakfast dish that I am also enjoying.  Oupha is made with Maize flour and slowly stirred into boiling water with a bit of sugar and powdered milk.  It looks like Cream of Wheat and is very good.  Again, I enjoy it … Sydney not so much.

Malawians lay branches on the road to signal there is a funeral in the village.  Anyone who is riding a bike must get off and walk their bike through the funeral zone.  Cars must slow down to a crawl.  People do this to show their respect for the family and the village.

More Signs
This one is the best – “People Always Complain Hardware & Investments.”  Okay I find this one hilarious!
“Pack N’ Go Coffin Shop” – Coffin to go, you just pack it up and go.

Malawians put Canadians to shame - they recycle and use everything.  Their most common all-purpose string is made from tyres (yes it is correct – Malawian spelling).  They use tyre string for everything and is the only type of string or rope they have.  They even make sandals from recycled tyres and they look quite fashionable.

Friday, April 9
We went to Isaac’s village and visited his mom.  Isaac is Alex and Andre’s gardener and guard during the day and his wife provides house-help.  In Malawi everyone has guards 24 hours, 7 days a week to protect their home and family.  Having guards is a must.  By employing Isaac and Florence, not only are Alex and Andre providing much needed employment and support to a family who are on the very edge of poverty, but they also develop a friendship with the family.  Isaac and Florence have two little children, Sophie (5 yrs) and Cadden (1 yr).  Alex and Andre help 2 other families like this as well. 

Anyway back to our visit.  Isaac’s mom lost her husband last year and 2 grown children.  No one knows what caused the children’s death.  Isaac’s mom was very happy to see Alex and Andre and very thankful for the gifts they brought.  She invited us to sit on her mat on the front porch of her hut and then several village friends and family came over to greet us. Very quickly a young man was called to translate.  He asked for a job right away.  Everyone you meet needs help and I desperately want to help them - sometimes the need is overwhelming.  Isaac’s mom wanted me to grind maize so she took me to her kitchen (that would be outside and around the back of the hut.  She seemed surprised with my maize pounding skills.  I know so many untapped gifts.   Well after that Isaac’s aunt wanted me to go to the watering hole with her.  We walked a good distance and then took our turns at the pump.  Alex and Andre informed me that she was also surprised that I could pump the water.  But the defining moment came when these women discovered that Sydney was my daughter … ahhhhh… then I was accepted.  Motherhood is universal.  Isaac’s mom shook my hand and beamed, she said some things but it didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand because her gestures told me all I needed to know.

Age Reversal
Apparently I shock and amaze people with my youthfulness.  After I visited Isaac’s mom, Isaac asked me how old I was and was very shocked when I told him.  People have been thinking that Sydney and I are sisters.  Yahhhhhh!!!  I guess the under-eye cream really does work.  Sydney, she no like the sister thing.  Everywhere we go people show surprise when I introduce Sydney as my daughter and it has become a common reaction.

We finished the week with some much needed rest and relaxation at a cottage on Lake Malawi near the end of the Great Rift Valley.  It was beautiful weekend after such a hectic week from working all day, everyday and late into the night making sure we had things ready to go.  Sydney really needed the rest.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your updates! I think we might have you make daily speeches at the office since you're getting so good at it. Malawian food sounds yummy- at least Sydney has the airplane eggs to look forward too...

    Everything is A-Okay in the the 'Whack. The Elevator construction has begun and won't be complete until late August so you have that to look forward to on your return :)

    Take care and see you soon!