Zimbabwe meals to the world

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
WHICH Zimbabwe signature traditional foods can be exported? Can it be inkobe, ibhobola, ulude, amasi, amahewu, amacimbi, or umfushwa?

Preparing these traditional dishes is something that has been passed down from generation to generation. There are not many recipe books lying around laden with information on how to prepare these dishes.

The recipes are just by intuition, through watching parents prepare the meals.

Ask yourself how much water is needed to cook isitshwala for a serving of six people. Perhaps one uses a certain size pot and how does one measure the amount of mealie-meal needed to prepare the meal?

WHICH Zimbabwe signature traditional foods can be exported?

How long must the pot be on the stove and at what heat for isitshwala to be ready for consumption? Or how does one prepare amacimbi,  ibhobola, or ulude?

All these questions are answered through knowledge passed down by parents to children, and this intangible knowledge needs to be preserved.  As such, most recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

(Unesco) awarded the French baguette bread intangible heritage status.

The body announced it had added “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” to its list of 600 other items, joining things like traditional tea making in China and a Korean mask dance known as “talchum” – both also included for the first time in 2022.

Its inclusion “celebrates the French way of life”, Unesco Chief Audrey Asoulay said, adding: “The baguette is a daily ritual, a structuring element of the meal, synonymous with sharing and conviviality. It is important that these skills and social habits continue to exist in the future.”

Where does Zimbabwean cuisine fit in this? Is there a dish that the country can export or quantify so much like the French baguette that 16 million are produced daily? Saturday Chronicle asked some experts in traditional cuisine on which dishes could be Zimbabwe’s export trade mark.

YouTuber Prince Sivalo Mahlangu who runs the “Magriza Made Me Cook” channel said Zimbabwe has an array of foods that it could export.

“The obvious dish would be isitshwala with beef and chomolia (or sorghum with beef and umbhida wendumba) as it is widely cooked across Zimbabwe. On the contrary, I reckon exporting amacimbi/madora/mahonja will be an ideal option due to the protein content within this delicacy and its obvious taste and flavour. That taste is golden,” said Mahlangu.

He said Zimbabwe is blessed with a variety of dishes that show cultural diversity as a nation.

“Dishes such as isitshwala/sadza/shaja/buhobe and umfushwa (dried vegetables) and several meat options are an important component of our heritage. These dishes cut across several cultures in the country and undoubtedly are key players within our heritage,” said Mahlangu.

He said appreciation of Zimbabwean cuisine should start by the people regularly cooking these dishes at home.

“If we are able to normalise cooking these dishes, then we can start appreciating their cultural importance and how they define our heritage as a country. From this, we can then normalise having these foods in our working spaces, at culinary schools, in hotels, at airlines and then finally to the international market,” said Mahlangu.

He said other dishes like inkobe/mutakura (a dish that comprises peanuts, maize kernels and groundnuts mixed together) are also fairly appreciated across the country.

“On the food items, several components come to mind such as the uniqueness of our indigenous fruits (uxakuxaku, matamba, tsvubu, umnyi), our indigenous vegetables (ibhobola, ucucuza, ulude, imbuya and umbhida wendumba) and our love for fermentation (amasi, amahewu and umhiqo). These are our intangible cultural heritage food items that we need to preserve at all costs,” said Mahlangu.

His counterpart, Kudzai Bingepinge-Sithole who is behind the Instagram food blog, Plated Poetry said there was a need for culinary schools to incorporate indigenous ingredients in dishes.

“I’m a big advocate of integration. Integrating some of our indigenous ingredients and dishes into more spheres of society. That also requires that our culinary schools take their roles seriously and begin encouraging more use of indigenous ingredients in their training.

“The more exposed we are to these ingredients from across the country, the greater the likelihood of these ingredients making it into our store shelves and dining spots and with that, a wider appreciation for our ingredients and consequently, our own unique cuisine,” said Bingepinge-Sithole.

Article Source: The Chronicle

Enjoyed this post? Share it!