‘Okra’, or ‘lady fingers’ as it is otherwise known, is common in Nigeria but it is also incorporated in a lot of dishes from West and Southern Africa. The green, pepper-like vegetable looks nothing out of the ordinary, until it is prepared. When chopped and cooked, the vegetable is slimy, as if someone has literally added several spoonfuls of slime into your food. Cooking it whole and with the seeds intact reduces the sliminess.
South Africa’s diversity is evident in the country’s cuisine. You haven’t lived if you haven’t tasted bone and vegetable soup. ‘Inhloko’, lightly salted and boiled ox or sheep head, usually served with ‘phutu’, a dry staple made from ground maize is another popular dish, and the recipe is on the blog piece entitled ‘Let’s Make Head and Feet’.
‘Amahewu’ is a fermented maize porridge, sweetened with sugar to make a thick, sweet and sour drink which many South Africans enjoy. ‘Umqombothi’ is another favourite. This is a home-made traditional beer which, if made right, could rival any brandy in its ability to get you from sober to drunk in a matter of just a few drinks. Check out the recipe for ‘Umqombothi‘ right here on the blog.
The East has sushi; Africa has ‘tera sega’, an Ethiopian dish of raw meat, usually beef, served with chillies and butter. For outsiders, this is definitely an acquired taste. And so is blood, a life source believed to have great healing and strengthening properties across the continent.
In Kenya, the Masai strategically make a small incision in the jugular vein of a cow and collect blood. Mud is used to seal the wound once enough blood is drained. The cows seem unaffected by this blood loss. While the blood is still warm, milk is added. This drink provides nourishment to the sick and increased strength and stamina for Masai warriors. And it must be said that if any warriors need as much strength as they can get, it’s the Masai; they still get up close and personal with lions.
The popular saying that ‘you are what you eat’ is not so amusing when one thinks about strange cuisine. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from trying the giant bullfrog if you ever come across the curious dish in Namibia or the Mopani worms in South Africa and Zimbabwe.