Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Food Network and HGTV Mozambique Style

Hi everyone - I wanted to give you an inside look at my day to day life here with my host family.  Here are some of the highlights!  I hope you enjoy.

A glimpse into the food we eat here in Mozambique (or at least here at
my home stay)
1. Soup- we eat vegetable soup every day (95 degrees or
thunder-storming) at both lunch and dinner. However, it is delicious
(and allows me to eat some veggies)
2. “Salad”- and by that I mean cucumber and raw white onion with oil
(leftover from what the fish or potatoes were fried in recently),
vinegar, and a little too much salt. But it is fresh and somewhat
“green and nutritious.” Sometimes, when I am lucky, there is a tomato
cut up in there too, or perhaps a piece of carrot.
3. Soda- I have learned to be careful how I respond to the question,
“Do you like [insert whatever food item]?” because if you say no, you
will never see that food again, but if you say yes, then you will be
fed that food at probably every meal. I made this mistake at my first
meal with the family when I said that I do like soda because now I am
fed soda at every meal and snack, even breakfast. They get confused
when I say I don’t want any right now, but I do like it in general. I
know a day is boding well when I am served tea or instant coffee at
breakfast and not orange Fanta.
4. Xima (Shima)- a mashed potato look-alike that is actually just a
rather gross glue like substance with the consistency of a thick
paste. It is apparently chock full of nutrients but the texture throws
me off. But they serve it as a substitute for rice sometimes so it has
officially entered my diet.
5. Covi- cassava leaves in coconut milk over rice or xima- delicious
6. Matapa- ground cassava leaves over rice or xima- delicious
7. Cake, biscuits, bread, etc- tons of bread products all day, at all
hours, all the time. I never thought I would say too much starch!
8. Spaghetti- yes, we eat spaghetti a lot. But it is plain spaghetti,
no sauce, and served over rice, or fried potatoes. Did I mention that
Mozambicans like starch in their diet?
9. Fish- today, I learned how to debone and fry a whole fish. It was
pretty hard-core if I must say so myself. Cut off the fins, took out
the backbones, excavated all the innards, and chopped off the head
(because when asked if I liked to eat fish heads, I outwardly
politely, but inwardly fearfully, said no). As if to top the scene of
me sitting on the kitchen floor deboning a large bucket of fish, my
host father came in dangling a live chicken upside down. He asked if I
wanted to learn how to kill a chicken and then de-feather it to get it
ready to be “grilled.” I said I would watch him do it, and so it was.
No more Chicken Little. But it was definitely the freshest chicken I
have ever had.
10. Peanut Butter- Best Snack Ever
11. Powdered Orange Juice Packets- I said I liked juice during my
first few days so now I am not really allowed to simply have water
with my meal, I have to mix it with juice powder.
12. Oranges, Bananas, and Apples- very fresh and very good, except I
am not allowed to my peal oranges by hand. I must use a dull knife.
Needless to say, I stick with the latter two whenever possible.
13. Home-made French Fries- love them- just wish I didn’t know how
terrible they were for me because we eat them A LOT.
14. Pancakes- that’s right, I taught them how to make pancakes. Too
bad the stove does not emit constant fire so they burned and we don’t
have measuring cups/spoons so the ratios were off even with my best
approximations (they were quite doughy to say the least) but my host
family were troopers and ate them. According to my host brothers,
however, the pancakes were deliciosos.
15. Bleach- used to sanitize vegetables before we eat them (families
are mandated by the Peace Corps to do so) but, hello bleach poisoning.

Random sidenotes:
     1. My host father and I were discussing music artists yesterday and
just FYI, according to him, Justin Bieber is “very young and talented,
and so is Snoop Doggy Dog.” Thank you Papa Felipe for that…
     2. Something I think I will have to get used to is the amount of
“sidewalk” traffic here. The population is extremely young, I believe
it is something like 70% of the population is under 25, so needless to
say, there are a lot of kids running around everywhere. But in
addition, there are also a lot of animals roaming wherever you go. A
large pig frequents front yard area all the time, along with chickens,
roosters, turkeys, dogs, cats, and goats (baby goats are absolutely
adorable!). But, I did, however, see my first monkey today. It had a
leash around its neck and was tied to a tree. Most dogs here are
strays because, apparently, monkeys are the real pets.
     3. I decided to let my hair dry down for the first time the other day
and sat down to eat breakfast. Mama Victoria asked if I had a brush in
order to comb my hair. I guess curly hair is not presentable here.
     4. Mozambicans are extraordinarily clean. This is sort of shocking to
me considering nothing except the main road through the middle of town
is paved and thus as soon as you step outside, you are covered in a
thin layer of dust. But yet, your house, your clothes, and your
overall décor are expected to be clean. Mama Victoria is constantly
sweeping the floor (and by sweeping, I mean using this broom made from
unidentifiable tree fibers bound by a piece of rope), and mopping
after sweeping (and by mopping, I mean, getting on her hands and knees
to use a worn out shirt to scrub the floor). They even sweep the dirt
in front of their house (sometimes in cool patterns…). I am expected
to do the same with my room multiple times a day. Don’t tell her but
sometimes, I say I already did it. But I think she is catching on.
     5. I learned how to wash my clothes this weekend because despite the
all-pervading dirt/dust/mud, clothes cannot be at all dirty.
Essentially, you use three different buckets of water with varying
degrees of soap, and at each station you hold one part of the chosen
item of clothing in one hand and use the other to rather harshly rub a
portion of the item on that still hand. And I swear these Mozambican
women can get any type of stain out of any type of fabric- they are
pros; it is quite impressive. But perhaps I am on my way to joining
them, because after getting rug burn on my right wrist and dropping
two pairs of pants that were all ready to be hanged onto the dirt and
having to rewash them, I have been wearing my successfully hand washed
clothes ever since. This weekend, however, I have been told I am going
to need to wash my backpack and all my shoes. The thunderstorms and
concomitant mud did not let them make the cut this time.

Those are my updates for now.  Miss you all!


  1. omg I LOVE YOUR BLOG and I miss you so much!!!

    Sounds like you are having an amazing time! xoxo

  2. I posted my last comment before I read #9 on your food list. UGH! And I posted it in the wrong place, to boot. --from Aunt Lynn

  3. Annie! I cannot tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog! I laugh out loud! You are a wonderful writer, the pictures you paint are vivid. Write on dude! xoxo Barbara O.

  4. ANNIE!!! ITS ANNIE L!!!!
    girl. this blog is fantastic. im so jealous of you. i love that you taught them how to make pancakes (maybe french toast would be better?)and i love that they give you soda for every meal since you said you like soda...
    keep it up girl!

  5. Annie, your writing makes everything so vivid in my mind; I can't wait to read your entries. Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us!

  6. You crack me up Annabelle....keep up the writing because I love being able to get an idea of everything that's going on each day for you.

    THANK YOU again for the birthday texts today--you're the best ever!


  7. Tiggs,

    Wow. I love reading your blog. I did Amigos de las americas in Nicaragua when i was 16...and there are so many freaking similarities.

    1. The hand washing. The women are BEASTS. If you let your host mom clean your shoes they will be cleaner than when you bought them from sportmart. TRUST ME.

    2. The starch...I recently looked through my nicaragua diary and I wrote an entry on how to die a slow death from what i called 'mummification' or basically eating ONLY starch that was over salted. I got rice with corn tortilla and beans drizzled with rotten milk that they considered cheese. And on occasion we drank soda that was bottled in corona bottles.

    3. How do they pronounce 'snoop dog' because in Brazil they would say 'snoopee doggie' just like lap top was 'lappy toppy' and internet was 'internechee'...Most cognates got the -ee added to the end. Hilarious

    4. Also am so with you on the cleaning thing. In brazil my host mom cleaned the house like 3 times a day. Luckily she did my room too (and would reorganize my desk) so i didn't have to work.

    Sending beijos dos estados unidos!!!
    Tchau meu beleza!
    -little dip

  8. Hi Annie,
    Love your blog - you make me feel that I am sitting next to you looking at that chicken!! Your text to Jesse was so sweet - we missed you but are happy you are having such an amazing experience!
    Love you,