Wednesday, January 26

"What Is Your Staple Food?"

When I lived in Zambia, hardly a day passed when I was not asked about America's "staple food" -- the food Americans eat most frequently. In Zambia -- and much of Southern Africa -- nshima is the staple food. It is often eaten two or three times each day. Zambians love nshima so much they insist that if you have not "taken nshima," you have not eaten.

Nshima goes by many names (nsima, ubwale, ugali, pop, etc.), and is made by adding corn meal to boiling water until you have a very thick porridge, somewhat like mashed potatoes or thick grits. Nshima is bland and eaten with your hands. It's usually served with ndiwo ("relish") -- meat or vegetables.

Dr. Tembo has a very extensive description of nshima, including historical background, recipes, anecdotes, songs about nshima, do's and don't's, etc. My favorite line is:
"Adult men are not advised to eat nshima ya cimbala as it is believed to cause weakness in the joints and also likely to usurp a man’s sexual energy."
Take a few minutes and look around.

(BTW -- "Americans have long consumed more potatoes than any other food except dairy products and wheat flour.")