Louise from our Group Finance team rolls up her sleeves to make a Zambian style meal for the team.
We've been really spoilt having food prepared for us since arriving in Kamaila, but today we had the opportunity to make dinner ourselves, Zambian style – and what an eye opening experience it was!
Setting up a kitchen in a wood and tin hut, and assisted by Florence, Ruth, Christine, Janipher and Lungowe, we prepared a traditional Zambian cuisine. We made Nsima, a staple of the Zambian diet eaten every single day. It's a maize and corn-based dish, which is served with chicken or fish and a number of accompanying dishes. There were a few leaf-based dishes: cassava leaves, pumpkin leaves, lumanda, and both traditional and wild okra, which sees the leaves being ground to a paste in a giant pestle and mortar (with a lot of human arm power) or chopped in the hand (Zambians don’t use chopping boards) and then boiled with onions and tomatoes. For those needing a bit more than leaves, next on the menu was dried kapenta (a tiny fish) and caterpillar. Yes that’s right, I did say caterpillar! Florence told me how she would pick them from the trees and then leave them to dry out, ready to eat or fry them. I wasn’t brave enough to try one but some of the #ZamFam19 team seemed to enjoy them.
Last up was chikanda (African Polony). Starting life as a root, it's sliced and dried in the sun before being ground down into a powder, mixed with warm water and ground nuts. You then add soda (as required) and stir for a couple of hours until it's almost hard, before baking and slicing it. It was amazing to see this transform from a powdery water into something resembling a cake.
Aside from the Nsima, all of the dishes we made were an accompanying dish, not a main meal, yet these ladies, just like all Zambian families would, typically spend three hours making them. The time and effort that the Zambian families put into making an everyday meal compared to us (where we just nip to the shop, fill a basket and 30 minutes later your food is served) is massive.
So much love and effort was put into these dishes and the ladies beamed with pride when talking about them. They were so excited for us to try what is part of their culture and everyday lives. Today was a once in a lifetime eye-opening experience that will never be forgotten.