Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eat your veggies!

I was warned on coming to South Africa that it was a “meat eating” nation. I have found this to be true without exception. I’ve also learned that South Africans also likes to eat starch.

If you are invited to someone’s home, you’re likely to be served an ENORMOUS portion of meat (and often you’ll find three kinds of meat on your plate) along with an enormous heap of mealie meal (pap).

If pap is unavailable, you’ll have rice or bread. If you’re served bread, it will be the white sliced variety, and you’ll be served four slices. FOUR slices.

If you’re lucky, you might have a tablespoon (really, a tablespoon—I’m not kidding) of “salad,” which is really a relish or a sauce. It is often chakalaka, a yummy, spicy sauce made from tomatoes and grated carrots or acher, a spicy relish made from green mangoes.

While the “vegetable” portions are quite tasty, they are far from what I would consider a healthy portion in regards to nutrition.

In South African restaurants this is true as well. Even if you order a dinner salad off of the menu, you’re likely to be served a small ice-cream scoop size of grated lettuce. I’ve yet to order a dinner salad in South Africa and be satisfied with my meal.

I often find myself wondering how in the world South Africans move their bowels.

(On a sadder note, South Africans suffer—a great many South Africans suffer-- with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.)

I’ve recently returned to my site after spending a week away eating lots of starch and meat. I felt like I could eat nothing but vegetables for a month and still not feel caught up!!

On my return I was hoping to harvest some wild spinach (amaranth) that I’ve noticed growing about the campus. Although it is often harvested by the people living in the village, I had found a patch that had been unmolested—as the photograph shows. Isn’t it a gorgeous plant?? I love it. I’m harvesting seeds to plant near my new home (my trailer).

Imagine my dismay at returning to find a spindly stalk and all the gorgeous leaves harvested!

Oh well, at least they left the seed pods!


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