Several years ago I started writing posts about food, but I haven’t done any for a long while. The “Anthony’s Appetite” segments were meant to give me a reason to play an amateur food critic in hopes of getting free meals 😉 Well, I never got any free meals, but I did get to eat some interesting dishes.
*Speaking of several years, I just learned from WordPress that today is my 7th anniversary for blogging! Cool, huh?
Anyway, I will eat a lot of things at least once. I’m not as brave as Andrew Zimmern, but I am adventurous for an American. Therefore, it’s a little easier for me to travel to new places and eat food I’ve never seen before. My wife, on the other hand, would die of starvation.
The average food I ate in Zimbabwe was chicken. This was the main staple meat. However, the main food of Zimbabwe is a thing called sadza.
One day I was the guest for lunch with a high-ranking professor at the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT). That day he took me to one of the small hotels that the university had acquired for its hospitality program. There, right in the open, food was prepared in an iron wok over an open fire and served buffet-style. Beef tips, fish, “vegetable,” and sadza was on the menu.
What is sadza? Well, think of grits, only ground finer, then the consistency of heavy mashed potatoes. It’s made from corn meal, is designed to be eaten with your hands, and has the taste of grits with no salt or butter.
Speaking of open fire, most all the food I ate in Zimbabwe was prepared by some lady in a mud hut. If it wasn’t made in a mud hut, it was made in an open area, but in every case there was a fire. And speaking of fire, I was terribly impressed with the way the folk in Zimbabwe were able to cook with such little wood! Where we in America would need to fill a fireplace, these people could cook a whole meal over three little limbs!
The Taste Test
One night we decided to try a Zimbabwe version of a truck stop diner. Frankly, it wasn’t that bad. The only thing that stretched me was one of the little foods I was told people drive for miles to get – to eat with their sadza. It was called dried Matemba (kapenta).
You know, Google it if you’d like, but whatever this fish was…I only ate one. One of these chewy little critters tasted like concentrated fish – the kind of taste you try to cover up because it “tastes like fish” – and river water (river water around here tastes like fish). I about gagged. I can’t imagine eating a whole meal of these things.
Our number one most frequently visited eating establishment of the trip was a little pizza place in Chinhoyi called Pizza Inn. Actually, it’s a combo type of place with a Chicken Inn, also (“with the flavor you’ve loved since 1987!”).
I’ve eaten a lot of pizza, but let me be very honest…Pizza Inn makes some seriously good pizza! And let me tell ya, Peri Peri Chicken pizza is da’ bomb!! Yessir! The pizza in the picture below was from the last night we ate there. It was four different types of pizza in one. AND, on Tuesday nights you could get two for the price of one!
Every night after our individual revival service meetings, the three of us preachers and our driver, Agayi, would stop in for pizza. For crying out loud, a loaded medium was only six dollars! And that could literally feed two people! Good stuff.
The other things was that Pizza Inn was the only place open that late (after 8 pm), and it was consistently clean.
But I Did a Bad Thing
Now, before I end this I must tell you about the worst thing I did while in Zimbabwe (except when I filmed myself in an area in the capital – who knew doing so was punishable by death?)…. I turned away some food.
Yes, I know it. How could I, right? One of the worst things you can do in a foreign country is offend your host by saying, “I’m sorry, but if I eat any more of this I’ll puke on your pretty table.” Well, that’s not exactly what I said, but it was close.
Most of the time when we think of dessert we never think of questionable contents, only sweet stuff. I mean, there’s usually nothing gross in dessert to offend the Western palate, right? Well, this time I ran into a culinary brick wall, one I could not get through or go around – I had to say “NO!”
What was it? What made it so hard to eat? How about I just show it to you and list the ingredients.
The above dish didn’t look toooo unappetizing, especially since I recognized sliced bananas. And since I’d been to the Luck’s Bean factory and eaten desserts prepared with beans (like pinto bean pie which tasted like pecan pie), I was ready to give this food a try, even if I’d never thought of banana and bean going together.
But then the rest of the ingredients had a hard time going down my throat – in combination with the bananas and beans: Onions, leeks, yogurt, and a thousand island-like dressing.
One spoonful was all I could handle.
Fellowship, Not Food
But really, it’s not about the food – it’s about the fellowship…something of which we’re in short supply in the States.
Sitting around at lunch or dinner – or even around a table in a pizza joint – would be nothing much to write about had it not been for the great people we ate with. Our hosts and friends in Zimbabwe treated us like family, even royalty. It really didn’t matter what food was served, the fellowship with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ was the sweetest parts of every meal.
If nothing else, anything is better than airline food!