MOZAMBICAN FOOD I LOVE
1.ChamusasChamusas are little triangle shaped pastries filled with beef, chicken, fish, or potatoes. I don’t know how long ago but they originally came here with people from India. The Mozambican version is SO good with just the right meat and spices inside each crispy pastry. When there’s a special occasion the girls spend several hours making chamusas together, which is really fun. Chamusas are not really like tacos but if you like tacos you will probably love chamusas. Claudia, Marta, Janete, and Graça making chamusas for a special meal.
Chicken Zambezia is one of the most famous Mozambican dishes and originally comes from Zambezia Province. The chicken is marinated, roasted and then served under a delicious coconut white sauce with rice and steamed vegetables or french fries and salad. We’ve never found a person who did not love this meal and I think it is something I will crave when I’m away from Mozambique.
Before I came to Africa I didn’t even know what cassava was. Now it is one of my very favorite foods. It’s probably bad to try to compare one unrelated food to another, but if you’ve never had cassava the closest thing I could compare it to would be a potato but with more strength. Sometimes people will bring us a fresh cassava root from their machamba (garden plot) and it is the greatest treat. I already loved eating cooked cassava alone. But then one day Victor’s sister, Carmina, made this red sauce (fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions, garlic, and a little oil) to go over it. This ended up being one of the most tasty and flavorful things I have ever eaten and now I want it all the time.
3. Cassava with Red Sauce
4.Rice and Beans
Rice and beans are the most common dish in Mozambique. They’re hearty, healthy, and taste really really good when they’re made well and with the right ingredients. Rice and beans are served about six times per week at the orphanage. I’m actually eating them right now as I’m writing this.
5.Santal Mixed Fruit JuiceThis is the best tasting juice in the whole world. It’s made from all the fresh tropical fruits that are abundant here, like mango, papaya, pineapple, guava, and passion fruit.
MOZAMBICAN FOOD OTHERS LOVE
6.Jumbo prawns/shrimpI am not a seafood person so I will never try these myself but from other people I gather that the Mozambican Coast is one of the world’s best places to visit if you like seafood and the jumbo prawns/shrimp seem to be the highlight.
FOOD I'M NOT A BIG FAN OF
(Just my peronal opinion)
I don’t know if they’re anchovies or sardines or something else but there are millions of tiny, tiny dried fish imported from Angola being sold EVERYWHERE here. Just walking in any neighborhood you will find many make-shift stalls with people selling them. I don’t know if they are good for you or not but I have never liked seafood and the smell of these little dried fish almost kills me when I pass by (which is whenever I walk anywhere). My worst experience was being on a bus ride several hours long with a gigantic (the size of a person) bag of dried fish under the seat in front of me.
Xima (pronounced “shima”) is the staple starch food that goes with almost every meal in many parts of Africa. It seems like it is so common because it is cheaper than rice or bread, which most people can’t afford very much of. Xima makes you stop feeling hungry but it has no nutritional value. People make xima by growing corn, drying the corn, grinding it into powder, and then mixing it with hot water into something that looks like mashed potatoes. Some people seem to really like xima but it seems like most people would have rice or bread instead if they could afford it. I feel so guilty for talking bad about xima that I ate a huge chunk of it today at lunch to punish myself for not liking it.
I don’t want to say anything bad about chicken feet because I know that if I grew up in a place where we all ate chicken feet because we were hungry and couldn’t afford other parts of the chicken I would probably like them. But if like me you grew up in a place where you had the luxury of being a picky eater and had never even seen a chicken foot - when moms give them to little kids almost sitting on your lap on a crowded chapa for several hours, sucking on a gigantic chicken foot with huge scraggly talons the whole time and it’s dripping on your arm and they’re wiping their hands on your clothes – you might not like it.
Once again, I’m sure that if I grew up without the luxury of being able to afford and eat whatever I wanted I would not be so stuck-up and snobby towards things like rat-kabobs. But since I didn’t grow up with limited choices – I am putting rat-kabobs on my list of foods I'm not a fan of. On long chapa trips you stop every half hour or so and people with different kinds of foods sell you stuff through the windows. On my first day traveling in Malawi a boy offered us a stick with eight very small extra crispily roasted rats in a little row (yes, I counted them). I was relieved that nobody in our chapa (especially the lady squished in the same seat with me) wanted them. And I do have to say that I haven't really found anyone here (who I have talked to about this) who has ever actually eaten a rat (unless they are older and were in a hunger situation during the war or something). It seems like everyone here feels the same way that I do about rats. The only exception would be my own brother who is not a picky eater and did happen to be in Mozambique when he roasted and then ate a wild rat.
Illustration of Rat-Kabobs. Sadly I was not able to take a picture but I will never forget this image and I wanted to make sure whoever reads this will be able to visualize it correctly.