To Market, Part 2

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA — Another “ex-pat” (as we call ourselves) or “mozinga” (as they call us) remarked the other day that for all the aspects of life that can be difficult here — (the internet went on and off FIVE times while I was trying to send ONE email this morning, for example), not to mention the gargantuan amounts of suffering, deprivation, and basic needs on display that would be easily addressed if the whole world were a better place — a lot of life here is actually easier, and nicer than elsewhere.

The Northmead Market, two minutes by minibus from the center of town is my favorite place in Lusaka and is one example. Here, in one stop I can get photocopies made (FOR me — try that at Kinkos), buy two meters of colorfully printed cotton (for about $2), have a dress fitted to me made from it (about $10), get fresh flowers for my apartment ($1.50), and be advised on which healthful green leafy vegetable is which, which I can then buy for less than $1.

This is important because green leafy vegetables are the true staple of the diet here. People say it is nshima, a stiff maize porridge, but the fact is nshima has no redeeming nutritional value. My colleagues here have told me that comes from the pumpkin leaves you can add to it. But they made preparing pumpkin leaves sound so complicated (“peel them,” they start with — peel a leaf?) and the consequences so dire (“if you don’t do it right, you will get the running stomach”) that I have been afraid to try it unsupervised.

So I got the “Proudly Zambian” Zambian Cookbook. My favorite part of it is the “Game” section, as it includes “Roast Mice” (so help me), and “Caterpillar Crisps.”

More encouraging, however, are the vegetable recipes, which include:
Cassava Leaves Stew (Shombo)
Cassava leaves
palm oil
semi ripe tomato

1) Wash hands
2)Pluck the cassava leaves and put in a bucket
3) Add one cup of cold water to the boiled water (note: don’t know how much boiled water)
4) blanch cassava leaves for 10 minutes and strain
5) Rinse the vegetable in cold water and pound a bit
6)Put in a saucepan, add water and bring to the boil
7) cook for 1 hour or until it is tender and cyanide free (note: that’s what it says)
8) Add oil, curry, ginger, tomato, onion and salt
9) Cook for 20 minutes
Serve as an accompaniment or with nshima.


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