I spent most of last week in Choma which a town about 280km from Lusaka. I was observing a training and went on a few site visits to local clinics. Choma is a small place and isn’t exactly the culinary capital of Zambia. There were very many choices besides Village Chicken (stew made with purposely tough chicken meat) and fried tilapia. I did have this:
No, it’s not meat. It’s made out of a local root combined with groundnut. The texture is similar to fried tofu – maybe a little spongier. I don’t remember what it’s called. This dish wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t memorable.
Most of my meals actually looked like this:
This is fried tilapia with a local white bean and sautéed rape (greens). It’s served with n’shima (Ogali) which is like the texture and color of dry instant mashed potatoes but made out of corn. On this particular day I didn’t have breakfast or lunch and dinner wasn’t until 7pm. I demolished that meal:
I guess it’s lucky that I’m used to eating tilapia like this. It was pretty common growing up. The n’shima is always too much for me. They give you two scoops with each meal and I barely finish half of one. It’s not bad, it’s just heavy. That’s the point though – to fill you up.
Last Friday on the way back to Lusaka we stopped at a local fish market. The market was a little overwhelming. Outside, no refrigeration, very fishy smelling and few flies – not what I was expecting. Once I got my head around where I was, I was fine. It’s not ideal but you work with what you’ve got, right?
My co-workers stocked up on fish because it was so cheap. Each fish, no matter how big was 5,000 kwacha which is about $1. Our office in Lusaka does communal lunches where each person contributes 50,000 kwacha ($10) and gets a home cooked lunch for the week. The housekeeper cooks daily. My co-worker suggested that instead of putting in the money, I buy 50,000 kwacha worth of fish to contribute. Sounded like a good idea to be so I picked up 10 fish.
The lady I bought from was really excited that the foreigner chose here. She even hooked me up with some extra ice for the journey back.
I’ll have to snap a few pictures of my fish contribution from our communal lunches. Actually, I’m sad I didn’t get a shot of this really yummy eggplant dish I had yesterday. It’s definitely nice to have a home cooked meal daily especially when I’m staying in a hotel for an extended amount of time. There aren’t very many Zambian restaurants non-Zambian’s would go to, so lunch at the office is my way of sampling the local cuisine.
I hope everyone has a good Friday!