One of my biggest fears about Peace Corps Mozambique was that I would lose the means to cook and eat well. I had really begun to enjoy cooking in the States, and felt like we were on a really good track with cooking and eating for our health. When we decided to come here, I knew I would no longer have access to grocery stores full of plentiful produce and aisle after aisle of spices, grains, proteins, sauces, and strangely wonderful things like prepackaged bread crumbs. I also knew we could be cooking over a charcoal stove for two years – the fact that we aren’t makes life much easier!
But, despite the days of only being able to find tomatoes, onions, coconuts, and peanuts for produce in the market, I have been pleasantly surprised at how many new and delicious recipes we have been able to make here in Mozambique.
We have experimented with baked goods, making Sunday breakfast something to look forward to.
We have learned to make Mozambican dishes, or make things the Mozambican way.
We have given and received food: give a peanut butter cookie and receive cashews, give matapa and receive folha de feijão. Give fajitas, give cinnamon rolls, give chips and guac. Receive strange squashes, receive roasted goat meat, receive basellas: free avocados, tomatoes, carrots, and a coconut from the market ladies…and gent.
I even made my own bread crumbs. Old bread. Cheese grater. Successful crispy pan-fried cucumber.
We aren’t so busy here, and we have a lot of time to think. We sometimes spend hours making ‘labor of love’ meals: coconut rice and bean burritos with pineapple salsa (it’s a labor when you’re making the coconut milk from a coconut, and when the beans are dried and must be soaked and boiled for hours), chicken coconut curry (it’s a labor when you’re dealing with a whole chicken…), cinnamon rolls (it’s a labor when they don’t come out of a tube), and pesto pasta (each basil leave picked fresh off the plant out back).
So, those of who have been following for a while may recall how I like to branch out and expand the blog a bit every now and then. A while back I introduced Tuesday Talk posts, then Our Table, where I began sharing recipes. For the sake of Peace Corps, I started 3 Smiles and A Struggle. Now, combining what’s already here I give you Matu Munchies.
Matu because we live in the “matu,” which is the word used by Mozambicans to describe rural, bush areas. Because of our location on the major north-south highway in Moz, and our close proximity to the larger town of Vilanculos, I didn’t consider Mapinhane to be very rural. However, Peace Corps and townies alike say Mapinhane is matu. Our site is rated a 2-3 on Peace Corp’s 1-5 rural scale (1 being the most rural) because of what we lack access to here, like an ATM, a major market or store. And as far as townies go, we’ve heard it said that Mapinhane is matu because it’s ‘tranquilo’ and there’s nothing going on. Townies know.
Munchies because the posts will be about things you can eat.
When you read a Matu Munchies post, you will find recipes that you can probably reproduce wherever you are, whether you are a fellow PCV elated over finding a carrot in the market today, or a reader in the States that can find a carrot any old day in any old size grown any old way! You will find stories of our trials and tribulations in the kitchen, and our growing connection with food that comes to us seasonally. During those times when my market stalls are nearly empty, you may find out just how many things you really can do with a tomato.
Whatever it may be, as always, I hope you enjoy getting happily lost with me on this new leg of our journey!