Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Year, Happily Consumed

A year ago, as I pressed “publish” on my first post, I remember worrying that I might run out of ideas. Was creating a food blog focused on Africa a mistake? Africa is a huge continent and I had little knowledge of its many foods – just curiosity and an appetite. Plus, I am not African. What would Africans, especially Zimbabweans, think about a food blog written in Zimbabwe by a white woman from America?

Today, Field to Feast turns one. And, instead of worrying that I might run out of ideas, I am slightly overwhelmed by them. My list of things to make and notes for stories to share is lengthy. I could write for years and years, and hopefully will.

Meanwhile, some of the comments and e-mails I have read with the most pleasure have come from Zimbabweans, both in the country and overseas. There was the Zimbabwean man living in the U.K. who showed his British girlfriend my post on kapenta, former residents who’ve reminisced about sadza, and welcome support for my meagre efforts to use the subject of food to shed some light on the country’s complex political and economic situation. Thank you, all.

I started this blog primarily because I wanted an excuse to write and I wanted an excuse to cook. My, my, what a great excuse it is. Just ask my husband how many times this past year, tired and hungry, I’ve said, “But, we can’t get takeaway, I’ve got to make it [peanut stew, couscous, pumpkin fritters] for the blog.” It is as if the blog is a person who I report to, but who, thankfully, is very generous with days off.

Keeping this blog has introduced me to new people and made me more curious about the foods around me and how they are eaten. In the past year, eating along with Field to Feast, I have discovered dozens of new ingredients and recipes – many of which, like malva pudding, bobotie, Nigerian beans, peanut butter rice, Zanzibari coffee and rosella tea, have become part of my life. This year, I am planning at least a couple more "field trips" so that I can bring you additional on-the-ground perspectives on African food. I hope Mozambique will be first on the list. Peri-peri sauce and seafood, here we come!

I’ll leave with you with a few of the new fruits and vegetables I’ve discovered over the past year - the photos are along the side. The first two are wild fruits most often eaten in the rural areas of Zimbabwematawe and mazhanje (the former could be spelled wrong!). When I first opened a matawe, I had the impression I was cracking some sort of alien egg, a feeling enhanced upon observing the sticky yellow goo inside. The idea is to chew on the husk until it becomes a well-masticated pulp, while absorbing all of the goo – which, mercifully, tastes like honey rather than alien blood. The pale orange flesh of the mazhanje, meanwhile, has a faintly squash-like taste, and it is often made into jam. The African cucumber is self-explanatory, while the last fruit is a complete mystery to me. All I know is that it is incredibly bitter-tasting, and I bought it from a street vendor who said it is popular among of people of Indian ancestry, who typically eat it with salt. Can anyone tell me what this mystery fruit is?

Thanks for reading over the past year and for your supportive e-mails and interesting comments. Field to Feast has a lot of friends for a one-year-old!

7 comments:

Kalyn said...

I know just what you mean about having to make food "for the blog." Isn't it just hilarious.

Congratulations on the birthday!

Anita said...

Wow..how fast the year has gone by!

The 'mystery' fruit is the Indian Gooseberry, known as Aamla in India. It is made into pickles and preserves over here, even salted and dried (with some grated ginger mixed in for good measure) to make a most delicious chewy snack/freshner. It is very rich in Vitamin C...More info here.

Have you ever used Body Shops's Aamlaki hair conditioner? Guess what the main ingredient is!

SusanV said...

Congratulations on the blogging birthday. I for one am glad to hear that you have so many new things to blog about. Keep 'em coming!

neroli said...

Congratutions! I second the motion, please do keep the posts coming.
Sincerely,
A Happy New Reader

Jeanne said...

Happy blogday to you! I hear what you say about not running out of ideas... I've been going three and a bit years and I am so behind with things I've done, eaten, cooked, seen that it's not funny! Far from having to stretch things into more than one post, I need to start cramming more stuff into each post just to keep up with ideas!

Love your blog and your unique voice - long may you continue to blog :) Viva Afrika!

Fran said...

Happy Birthday, sister African food blogger (there are so few of us!). I enjoy checking out your blog regularly.Have you read about our Africa Cookbook project (http://www.betumi.com/2007/06/africa-cookbook-project.html)

Maninas: Food Matters said...

Happy birthday! :)

I saw your blog before, and then somehow lost it, but I'm glad I found it again!