The language of food echoes through the generations in rural Zambia. Many of the people with whom I’ve worked — men and women from different tribes in the south, the east, the west — repeat stories, or recall memories, about growing or cooking or foraging or preserving wild and indigenous food while growing up in a village far from any urban centre.
I’ve just been on a voyage of discovery. And adventure. And collaboration. I’ve travelled some 1,000 kilometres northeast, another 1,200 kilometres west, and finally, 500 kilometres back home to Livingstone. What a vast, empty country Zambia is, yet it’s home to 72 different tribes.
Tomorrow I fly up to Mfuwe in Zambia’s eastern province to introduce my bush gourmet cuisine to Norman Carr Safaris’ five-star lodges and bush camps in South Luangwa and Liuwa Plains. I will be away for six weeks, training chefs, assessing vegetable and community gardens, and redesigning menus to ensure they are as local and sustainable as possible.
There’s a malady, I believe, that is connected to the spirit. Not to the brain, not to the body. It’s a malady that envelops you, unfathomable, and in the moment, unfixable. A malady that is not of you, but is created by you for not being really in you. For being outside of you.
Lusala roots — hairy, weathered, and arthritic-looking, like an old man’s fingers — aren’t the most enticing wild edible I’ve set my eyes on. They are, however, versatile, healthy, and a perfect substitute for potatoes, which we don’t grow here because Chris farms tobacco and the two don’t mix for fear of viral cross-infection.
A couple of days after the military placed Robert Mugabe and his family under house arrest, and it appeared that he would likely have to step down as Zimbabwe’s president, I received the following message from a nutritional therapist with whom I am working in South Africa: “Hi Annabel … are you quite stressed? Your adrenals are reacting highly.