Monday Meal Review: Zambia

Between Zambia and Zimbabwe lies the stunning chasm of mist and water called Victoria Falls. The water flows through both countries like some stealthy border walker, never fixed to one particular country. Never tied down. In this poetic space, where rapids, danger, and sparkling, spraying joy all tumble together, I see meaning for our own little cooking adventure.

Victoria Falls, First Gorge, Zambian Side. Photo by DoctorJoeE.

Victoria Falls, First Gorge, Zambian Side. Photo by DoctorJoeE.

I’m on one side of the end, metaphorically sitting in Zambia, looking at Zimbabwe. Wondering what comes next. I’m so close to reaching my goal of eating every country in the world. So. Close. And yet, the “end” feels so, so, so far away. Almost unattainable. By this, I don’t really mean the cooking . Cooking one more country will be easy. I know how to research recipes. I know how to cook them. Sure, I make mistakes from time to time, but after four years, the process feels like breathing. No. It’s something else that feels far away, that feels unattainable.

Swimming at the edge of the falls in a naturally formed safe pool, accessed via Livingstone Island. Photo by Ian Restall.

Swimming at the edge of the falls in a naturally formed safe pool, accessed via Livingstone Island. Photo by Ian Restall.

Perhaps it’s that I don’t know how to reach a goal of this magnitude. Not with grace, anyway. I feel myself building momentum, while also sustaining a fear of tumbling down, down, down, and not reaching the other side. So much of this adventure was undertaken to alleviate my wanderlust, help Keith with his picky eating, and raise my daughter with an understanding of her global neighbors and new flavors. Somehow I fear the finding myself on the other side of the “falls,” in Zimbabwe, I will be lost. Without direction. I’ve never reached a goal of this magnitude. And I’m sort of afraid to. There’s no rational reason for this. The only way I can explain this feeling I have, is to say that it must be something like looking over the edge Victoria Falls. What do you do right before you reach a goal? Does it sometimes feel like the last few steps are treacherous and also, somehow, completely different from all those you took before? THIS WEEK’s FOOD Mealie Bread with Blackened Chilies [Recipe] What I loved most about this dish: The blacked chilies were a great hit. We especially loved the poblanos because they added great chili flavor without much heat. Plus, they’re beautiful! The bursts of corn are lovely, especially as a sweet contrast to spicy soup. What I loved least about this dish: Be careful when blending the corn. If you pulverize it too much, you risk making the batter too wet and it won’t cook properly. The best way to avoid this is do as the recipe states and set aside a cup of corn kernels while pulsing. That way they don’t get broken down, too. Zambia’s Spiced Tilapia Stew [Recipe] What I loved most about this dish: I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the bright lime juice coupled with the hot chilies makes for a very refreshing soup, warming on chilly fall afternoons, but  also refreshing on a hot summer’s evening. There’s something just so… tropical… about the stew. What I loved least about this dish: I had a reader from Zambia write and say that limes and cumin are hard to get in the country, so even though we adapted the recipe from Marcus Samuelsson, whose recipes I love, you might consider making a plainer version for authenticity’s sake.


  1. Maybe the final steps of a journey seem ominous or foreboding because the adventure is in the journey rather than the destination. It can often be difficult to finish very rewarding projects for that reason. Nevertheless, I have truly enjoyed this journey through the world, and look forward to your next adventure, Sasha.

    • Sasha Martin says

      I think you hit the nail on the head! There’s a sense of … “what now?!”

  2. As a former Zimbabwean, among many nationalities I adopted, this brings back such fond memories. Like you my parents gave me these experiences, which we treasure. And while Africa and Zambia and Zimbabwe are known mostly for Sazda and meat and cannot to compare to the culinary sophistication of Asia it is nevertheless a beautiful place.

    Sasha it is OK to have these feeling. It is the story of Life. Seeing the majesty of Africa and the beautify of Victoria Falls I think leads many people to reflect. It certainly did for me. I felt so grounded in Africa, at peace if you will. And goals seem so mundane.

    To me this is the beginning of your wanderlust. I think you can expand on this World Travel Idea. Bring some healthy cooking ideas to America from around the World and also give back to the rest of the World.

    • Sasha Martin says

      ” this is the beginning of your wanderlust.” << What a beautiful thought. Perhaps this adventure just fanned the flames... and the blaze is yet to come! 🙂

  3. Kudos to you on the eve of finishing this challenge. The time has gone by so quickly. I think I came upon your site when you were cooking in the “E’s”.
    What an enormous accomplishment! Even more importantly what a terrific community you’ve built here. Best wishes on your next global adventure.

  4. Just lovely – you waxing poetic about your “final” steps, though the adventure will never die and your life will never be the same! You’re changing the world and the road goes ever on and on! Congratulations on what you’ve accomplished and for all the ripples spreading out globally from what you’re continuing to do!

  5. Simone says

    The picture of the swimmers really took my breath away!! I can’t even imagine!! Love the video and Ava coaching you! Can not believe that this is the final stretch – curious to see what evolves out of it – I’ll miss the daily dose of global!!!

  6. Robin Lenz says

    In answer to your question What’s next, but to start over and just change it up a little. As we grow we’re always learning and I’m sure you didn’t use all the recipes in those Country’s then too each Country has its different provinces that you could help Us explore. Your adventure has been our adventure also, so thank you for sharing!

  7. Many years ago I had a professor from Rhodesia who made the most wonderful meal I crave to this day. I have looked for it endlessly and haven’t been able to find anything like it even though I recall him saying it was a popular dish there. It was a very spicy/hot chicken dish in a red sauce that is eaten by scooping it with bread (No forks). It was one of the best dishes I ever had.
    Sasha, did you ever come across anything like this?
    Love your story. First caught you on the Variety Seekers podcast. Looking forward to reading your book and trying your recipes. That orange coconut cake from Bali sounds wonderful!

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