Food in Lilongwe

Food is probably my number one delight in our African life thus far.
(which isn't really saying much, as we have been working our butts off
and haven't seen _anything_ of Malawi yet) The supermarkets here are
great. There are a lot of them, and they are full of everything you
need. In the future it will be fun to buy from people on the street and
at the Lilongwe outdoor market, but it is awfully nice to have some
grocery stores to rely on. Foodworths, one grocery store in particular,
is really nice. It is an upmarket grocery store, and kind of feels like
Trader Joe's. You walk in and there are racks of freshly baked bread,
rolls, loaves, croissants and even bagels. Malawians seem to appreciate
their bread fresh, and I love warm out of the oven bread. Meat is cheap
and good here. The cuts of beef look much better than what they offer
in the UK. Fresh chicken is reasonable too, they offer boneless chicken
breast which is great, but they also serve packs of chicken feet, which
is interesting (Claudia and I once ordered Chicken feet in Manila out
of curiosity, and it pretty much tasted like you would expect Chicken
feet to taste - kind of crunchy chewy chickeny). Our new landlord also
happens to be the biggest poultry farmer in Malawi, with 400,000
chickens paying the mortgage on our house, while 10,000 get slaughtered
every day. So grocery shopping is good and comfortable, but not without
its African intrigues.

Continuing on the food track, the restaurants are great here. After
travelling in Ethiopia last year, and eating injera (sour pancake) with
spicy sauce every day, and then hearing that Ethiopian food was the
best African food there was, I was a little anxious about Malawian
food. But Lilongwe is full of excellent, reasonable restaurants with
all types of food. Ethiopian food was different, probably because they
have their own national cuisine, even their own type of grain (tef),
and they have never been colonized. For Malawians, to eat is synonymous
with eating corn porridge (encima). Conversely, ingesting mangos, meat,
rice and other non-corn items does not mean eating to a Malawian. You
have only eaten if you have eaten corn. For those of us in Lilongwe,
however, we have lots to choose from besides corn. There is a large
Indian population, so there are a lot of good curry houses. We went all
out at Modie's with drinks, appetizers, piles and piles of Naan, and
many different curries, and our total was around $25. I have already
discovered two good pizza places. I had a burger, fries and shake from
Steer's - a South African chain and while it wasn't In-N-Out, it was
much better than McDonalds.The best restaurant by far though, has been Buchanon's, a restaurant
located at one of the numerous garden centers that they have here. The
tables are outside next to a huge fish pond, with frogs providing music
by candlelight (the picture is of Buchanon's during the day). We had
South African wine with our T-Bone steak and beef kebab and it was all
top quality (the wine should be described as okay for the price, but a
welcome change after all of the Two-Buck Up-Chuck we had in the US).

Reading over this post, I sound a bit like an ugly American. I hate it
when people travel and they complain because the food is so weird and
awful. But living somewhere is a lot different than travelling through
a place. I have no doubt that we will eat and appreciate our fair share
of local cuisine, but comfort food is important in the long run.

This could be its own separate post, but when we first moved to Oxford
3.5 years ago, we fantasized about chimichangas, orange chicken, and
Sheila's blackened chicken pasta. But by the end, all I needed was a a
pint of real ale some bangers & mash and you could keep your long
lines at the Cheesecake Factory, thank you very much. It will be
interesting to see what becomes of my tastebuds here...

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