Growing up, I remember dining in hotel restaurants a lot. When we’d make the occasional trip to Bulawayo or further up in Harare; I remember my first encounters with fast food in its varying forms. Fried Chicken, mega burgers and milkshakes. I frowned on my native food and grumbled whenever we had it. Also because I was a spoilt little shit I sulked and insisted on a different starch anytime sadza was on the menu. As the gotwe (last born) I was indulged without too much question.
Fast forward to now…
my love indulgence for traditional food is…insatiable!
Well, I love sadza. Sadza with virtually any of my favourites be it a grilled medley of meats at a dusty growth point downed with a beer or the less charted female culinary territory of gearboxes (bull testicles), mazondo (beef trotters), gango (meat stirfry) or anything else more experimental. My palette is ever ready to make up for the lost time.
I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t like traditional meals. I’d knife anyone who’d dare slander my mother’s cooking which I still sear is top tier. But, I will admit my parents didn’t force it down my throat, so-to-speak. I knew more about a weird medley of Brit, Italian and Meditteranean cuisine. Be it Shepherds Pie on Sundays, Yorkshire Pudding, Spring rolls from Miner’s Retreat, Lasagna every fortnight or Bangers and mash every other week!
High School didn’t help.
The Adventist Boarding school I went to served a staple of Sadza and watery Beans weekly. Not the best representation of how traditional could be. SatTV would have me salivating over ads of Italian food recipes from Knorr, puddings and sweet treats etc from Melrose, here to there. Every TV show would have some mention an indigenous meal, albeit stereotypical it was some type of cool. I suspect the cool factor has been missing from traditional run off the mill Shona food; at least for me.
FUDU is always the answer.
A good decade and some change later from my experience, FUDU by Ramai Murisi is that pat on the back for Traditional Food I (read as we) needed.
Ramai who is also a chef hopes to develop a new culture of food and celebrate its role in Zimbabwean Culture.
Food has played more than just a functional role in our culture, at weddings, holidays, family gatherings, business meetings and dare I say funerals, it seems to provide the intangible essence that strengthens the bonds between a people. Throughout Zimbabwe food is inextricably linked to our lifestyles and cultures with diversity just as rich. – Ramai (Fudu Online)
Her new cookbook Fudu brings a piece of what is missing in the celebration of some of Zimbabwe’s indigenous food and cuisine. From choco-macimbi, kapenta atchar, muhabhorosi smoothies to fried chilli madumbe the modern twist is quite evident.
Traditionalists may consider Ramai experimental mix of flavour an unruly unbecoming of what we ‘truly’ are.
Food is something to be played with, fused around, hybridized with all the assorted media; spices, foreign ingredients. It can be revered as another platform of art to give pleasure and still be authentically Zimbabwean while capturing the eternal range of unique colours in the flag of variance that defines what it is to be Zimbabwean. – Ramai (Fudu Online)
The recipe titles and plating aren’t just the cool we crave but the potentially indigenous gourmet we can sell!
FUDU has realistic and cute rustic images of the plated meals in question paired with very simple brief instructions (perhaps too brief for beginners though. The 100 Pages feel short but offer quite a variety of meals. We also liked the Nutrition Value table at the back, quite informative. You can check out the FUDU Website to purchase your copy for $1.99 here to support more Ramai’s work with traditional food.