All posts filed under: Swaziland


Monday Meal Review: Swaziland

  “The bee that is forced into the hive will not produce honey.” This Swazi proverb has me thinking about what I do and why. When I used to work a desk job, I had  a palpable limit to my energy and creativity: it was called “5pm.” The old song “It’s five o’clock somewhere” was my quitting time rhyme. I was out that door faster than anyone else and, in fact, I was unproductively waiting for the end of the day even before five o’clock. But since I began cooking the world, something strange has happened. No longer am I watching the clock. No longer do I count the minutes down by the second. Instead, I have weeks like this one… our Swazi week … where I’m surrounded by the steam of the moistest corn bread I’ve ever had, reveling as I eat nearly an entire loaf by myself. Times when I fall into a tongue in cheek discussion with Mr Picky about how delicious beets are (I believe it, he doesn’t). Where Ava tries …

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Swazi Salad | Slaai

Swaziland’s swooping slopes are dotted with crops; it is here that the Swazi grow the freshest produce, from sunshine yellow lemons, to buttery avocados. With farming of that caliber, it should come as no surprise that Swazi Salads are especially grand. This is not to say they are carefully composed salads. (Most things that are careful, aren’t nearly as delicious.) No, these are simple, heaped piles of chopped veggies. But you can get them on the side of even the most humble plate of beans, which counts for, well, everything. There’s no elaborate dressing, save, perhaps, a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh grated ginger. Croutons? Forget it. The crunch you seek comes from a handful of crushed peanuts and the crisp bite of a sharp radish. Feeling bold? Add minced hot peppers to that lemon juice. Fresher and brighter is the name of the game. So what’s in a Swazi Salad? Every time I looked up Swazi salads, I happened across some combination of avocado, lettuce, onion, and beets. Beets were everywhere: red heaped piles …

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Mealie Bread

The next time you walk into your kitchen, walk into the warm, sweet scent of mealie bread. Let a smile curl along your lips as you taste that first, moist bite with your imagination. Then take a moment for real indulgence: spread softened butter across the still-warm bread, only to see it melt into and down the sides of the tender crumb. I’ve had lots of corn bread before, but never something as rich and flavorful as this Mealie Bread. The main difference between this and ordinary corn bread is that it doesn’t rely on cornmeal, but actual corn to flavor the bread. Mealie Bread is a treat you will find throughout southern Africa. In olden days, it was steamed over a campfire, with little more than ground corn, wrapped up in husks. They used white corn, not sweet, yellow corn. The end result was more of a wet corn pudding. Today’s southern Africans, however, love mealie bread with more of a bread consistency, so they include flour. The jury is out, however, on whether or not the …

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Menu: Swaziland

There’s an old Swazi saying that goes: “A man who prides himself on his ancestry is like the potato plant, the best part of which is underground.” Do you agree? Do we need to know our ancestors?* And are they the best part of who we are? Once upon a time, we got our recipes from our ancestors. Grandma’s cornbread. Uncle’s avocado salad.  Today we can find just about anything online, but the best recipes come from someone … from the long line of way back when. They’ve been tested and tried, adapted and improved upon. This week’s recipes are inspired by the Swazi people (and beyond that, too, these are staple ingredients and recipes popular throughout most of Southern Africa). The ingredients are nod to fresh produce and the transition between winter and spring, which, like the alarm clock, keeps resetting (It’s 42F, right now, after an 80F weekend). The cornbread, as you’ll learn when the recipe posts, has undergone many changes over the years, to reach its straightforward, delicious self. Sometimes I dream about living on a farm …

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Swaziland. Photo by Jenny M. Buccos.

About the food of Swaziland

This week we’re back in Africa, in a little tropical/temperate country called Swaziland, just north of South African and Lesotho.  The Swazi people live in this beautiful land, among the mountains and undulating hills, tending their farms and rearing their cattle. From their smooth slopes, come pineapples, citrus, and sweet sugar cane. Many call Swaziland one of the world’s most beautiful countries, and I can see why. While the traditional people might eat something as simple as emasi, or porridge, which can be made with sorghum or corn, you’ll also find corn, rice, and every kind of potato, including sweet potato. Many stews, such as spinach, pumpkin, or even green beans, grace the sides of such dishes. Salads are a given, especially when topped with avocado or beets [Recipe]. And did you know the Swazi eat beer? That’s right… beer is yet another carb; the  Swazi consider their rich, thick home brew a food. (I read about it in the World Cookbook for Students.) If that’s too boozy for you, perhaps a simple slice of mealie bread  [Recipe] (think corn bread with bolder, …

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