Food is the reason for life. Back in the US after breakfast I would think, “What’s for lunch?” When traveling places, many activities are based on food. Besides friends and family the things I miss most are food items from the US. El gallo, Vietnamese noodle soup, chipotle, deep dish pizza…the list goes on and on. So my food post will be split into two sections, food of Lesotho and food I or we have made.
So food of Lesotho is not super extravagant. The staple is a dish called papa. It is maize meal (maize is like corn but tougher) that has the consistency of really hard mashed potatoes. It is super starchy and has pretty much no nutritional value. It is either eaten with beans, split peas, or moroho. Moroho literally means vegetable, but this refers to a certain cabbage like plant that is chopped up, covered in oil, and fried for a long time. It is really greasy and smells funny after it sits out for a while. I don’t eat it so much anymore. My favorite dish is called Chakalaka. It is carrots and tomatoes that are chopped up and served in this spicy sauce. As I type this post, I am stuffing my face with rice and canned chakalaka. Steamed homemade bread is also very common (and I can make it!). Beets are many times included in meals as well. Most people’s favorite food here is meat. Chicken, beef, pork, mutton, anything. People go crazy for it. I guess this is because it is not a common thing to eat meat because it is expensive. I kid you not but KFC is a very popular restaurant. I go for the ice cream because it costs less than 50 cents US, but that may just be me.
I needed to start a new paragraph for this final Basotho food item. It is called the Maquena (I think that’s how you spell it). The nickname is the fat cake. They are sold for 1 rand (around 7.5 rand to the dollar) for a big one and 20 cents for small ones. They use the same bread dough as the steamed bread and deep fry it in oil. Heaven in a tiny, greasy ball. I sometimes eat them with sugar or peanut butter or both. Yum.
So onto the creative peace corps volunteers. I must start by saying that I have given myself a challenge for my peace corps service. I am going to try to eat my weight in peanut butter. I am at around 40 lbs. Kinda gross, I know but I put it on a lot of things. It’s funny because I thought I might not be able to get peanut butter. Ha. That was wrong.
So eating in restaurants is a different experience. A lot of times service will be tortoise slow and they will often not have ingredients to make things on the menu. Pizza comes without pizza sauce and burgers all have mutton in them. Bunny chow should be brought to the US (it is a hollowed out piece of bread and filled with beans and meat and vegetables in a curry sauce, named for Indians who worked in the fields in South Africa and would put their curry in bread because they didn’t have utensils). Fries are called chips and chips are called ma-simba (after a brand of chips…like calling tissues Kleenex). Peri peri sauce is a chili sauce that makes anything and everything better. Mexican food does not exist.
Highlights of homemade things cooked on gas stoves and dishes washed in buckets include…
1) Homemade pizza, dough, sauce, everything!
2) Bread bowls for soup (Being cold, I am on a soup kick), also the soup was really spicy and delicious and filled with vegetables
3) The famous peanut butter soy sauce combo that makes easy thai
4) Tuna melts
5) PH sandwiches (these are greasy egg, cheese, tomato, and recently garlic and avocado that I make for people) (I must give credit to my college roommates for the inspiration (and my friend Haley), I cut mine in triangles everytime)
6) Chili, I don’t make this, but Eric makes a mean chili
7) Buffalo dip
8) Many a tortilla and guacamole
9) Chocolate chip French toast from homemade steamed bread
10) Chocolate chip cookies with a peanut butter chocolate sauce melted on top
11) I am sure there are more and I will update the list as we cook masterpiece