Food in Madagascar
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Thought you all might be curious about what they eat in Madagascar--since I was just there on vacation.
Things are a bit upside down there from how things are here. For instance, chicken is the expensive meat. Zebu (their version of cattle, it pulls their carts too) and fish are the cheap meats. You see chickens running around everywhere, and wake up to them crowing in the morning. But they are considered "rich" and you might say someone was living extravagantly with the phrase "he eats chicken every day."
We had chicken one day, and you should have seen the legbone on that guy. Our American chickens are truely wimps. It was stewed and yummy.
I never had any fish, but zebu is tough and flavorful. All the places we ate, knew that these tenderfoot tourists needed well cooked food, and our zebu was grilled. Indeed, most of their cooking is over charcoal in any case.
They dig good sized crabs out of the mangroves. (mangroves are trees that grow on land that is saltwater swamp. We didn't have a chance to eat that seafood either.) The comment was that the crabs were good the next day as long as you left the mud on them overnight. We past some hanging by the side of the road for sale. I didn't recognize them as crabs, because they just looked like lumps of mud. The crab shells were green in color, though I was told they also turn pink when cooked, just like the ones from the ocean around here.
There weren't so many vegies, but there were lots of fruit. I gained a taste for papayas, and my son now likes guavas. All the fruit tastes better there too--they don't have the refined hybrids and the smaller fruit seemed to concentrate the yummy flavor. I think the citrus is native there. They serve a variety of tangerine that has a green skin--I saw it on all sorts of roadside stands. A lot of their fruit is not native, like pinapples, papayas and bananas probably, but they are growing all over. One town we passed had a papaya tree for just about every house. I want one now. They kind of look like thin palm trees with papayas hanging around just under the top sprout of leaves. They also have mango trees and leechees and others that I guess weren't in season, because they didn't appear at breakfast.
Talking about breakfast brings us to the island's origins for its peoples. Many of the Malagasy (that is what the people from Madagascar are called) have roots in Indonesia originally, and all Malagasy on the island, no matter what their origin, like rice best--the shorter grain, stickier, type. And yes, it is white :-( They will normally have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some, however, will have a baguette for breakfast instead of rice. Breakfast was also when we got a small cup of freshly made yogurt, probably from zebu milk, as the closest thing I saw to a cow was either a cow colored zebu or a cow zebu cross on Nosy Be. I'm not sure what I was looking at.
At the last hotel we were at, my son and I had something they called an "American Sandwich." I'm sure this isn't Malagasy, but I'm not sure how this sandwich came into being. We thought we were going to get a hamburger, and we did after a fashion, but let me describe this "hamburger" to you: The bun was a baguette, and the burger was reshaped to be long and thin to fit the baguette. and there was ketchup. and there were fries, but the fries were IN THE SANDWICH. there was a little chiffonade of letuce with a small tomato slice and a slice of a shallot on the side as well, but not really enough to accessorize the whole "sandwich." As wierd as it sounds, the sandwich tasted rather good. I don't know who told them erroneously that Americans eat FRIES IN SANDWICHES. Many more Europeans and Australians vacation there than Americans. However they were misinformed, they made something edible out of it for us, against all odds I'd say.