Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Food from beyond your comfort zone!

A couple of things you need to know about todays blog..........

- it is essential that you have eaten chicken at least once in your life before you read on
- this blog, as above, is an observation on life in Zimbabwe

My post regarding worms elicited a couple of comments - one in particular about 'comfort zones'. Well, today I intend to prove that I was indeed very gentle with our American guests. Because I could have served them 'ngorzha' instead of Mopane worms. But that would have been a step too far I think.

So - what are ngorzha? And where do you find them? The answer to the second question is really quite simple - you find them at the road-works.

At this time, they are re-tarring the road over Christmas Pass - the mountain pass that lies between us and the city of Mutare where we do all our shopping. (Our vehicle, as you will see in the following pic, has a cracked windscreen because of the loose stones on the road - as do so many vehicles in Zim right now.) The cars are stopped at a traffic control point, and the vehicles are surrounded by swarms of vendors selling cans of Coca~cola, cigarettes, fruit, ice-creams, crisps, and other things.

Among the 'other things' being sold by the vendors are......... ngorzha. Here is an ngorzha-vendor in full flow:

If you are a regular reader, you will remember my blog about roadside vending - and the picture of the tomato-sellers that I posted in the blog titled "Suffering from piles" on 28th May? (All 145 previous blogs are listed at the top of this page on the right hand side if you didn't read them all - a great read for a rainy day!). Well - once someone hits upon a money-making idea in Zim, it doesn't take long for the market to saturate. Here are just a couple of the ngorzha-sellers......

Here I am holding a packet of ngorzha. They are sold pre-roasted, and there are 8 to a packet - which costs $1. I was hoping to show the packet close-up, but David the waiter is not so accomplished with the camera! The small red spot you can see in the photo is a chilli - every packet is sold with a couple of chillies and you have a nibble of the chilli and then crunch the ngorzha whole. All except.............for the legs!

So the obvious question is - what is ngorzha? This thing with legs? Sold roasted? With chillies?

Here is a close-up of an ngorzha. You can see from the bill that is it a seed-eater, and I can tell you that it is a quelea. These voracious seed eaters fly in huge clouds, and they can strip a field of wheat in a matter of minutes. They roost at night, and that is when they are trapped - often a tin can of petrol being lit under the tree and the ball of flame simultaneously catching and cooking the birds, or a fine mesh net is thrown over the roosting tree as they sleep.

Before I am accused of being an uncaring and beastly African (which I undoubtedly am!) for posting the following pics - and before the Bambi-syndrome kicks in - here are a few facts about the quelea:

They are the most populous the world. And yet they only live in Africa. They only eat seeds, and each bird consumes up to 25% of its own body weight in seed......every day. A large flock of these birds will contain up to 20,000,000 birds (yes, correct - twenty million birds) and they reproduce at an incredible rate. Zimbabwe - back in the days when we had farmers and stuff, used to have a department of the Ministry of Agriculture which dealt specifically, and solely, with quelea-control.

And........they are packed full of protein. Yum!

I don't usually serve ngorzha at La Rochelle, but possibly I can create a brand new culinary reputation for myself? Say - a tastefully decorated platter, with Sauce Marie-Rose, and a few birds-eye chillies? Yup - I see potential here..........

The very next time my American friends come to stay with me...........I promise I will serve them ngorzha, and those pics should be things of true beauty?

Have a great day!

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