We now interrupt your regularly scheduled silence to bring you a new KIDS KORNER!!For real though, sorry folks. We've had this post ready for a while but became consumed with a million other things!! Please accept our apologies!
"With no electricity, microwave, or stove how do you eat?"
Answer: Fire! Lots of fire!
There are a few ways to do this in Malawi.
1. The traditional 3 brick fire.
This is exactly what it sounds like. Three bricks are set on the ground in a triangle, a wood fire in the middle, and a pot rests on top. This is the method most commonly used in the village. All of the materials are easy to find and you can cook anywhere!
2. A clay mbaola.
This is what we most commonly use! It is mostly used for wood fires but it can also burn charcoal. It cooks faster than the 3 brick by directing the heat to the pot and makes less smoke. These are less common because they take more resources and knowledge to make. Another challenge is that not many villages know about them.
3. Charcoal mbaola.
This one is made of metal and cannot burn wood. Charcoal is hard to find and technically illegal. It's not like the charcoal brickets you buy at the grocery store for a Bar-BQ. It is wood that has been slightly burned and buried for a few days. This makes it easier to burn. BUT it takes extra wood to make it and there are not a lot of trees here.
We use this sometimes. It is like a gas stove top in your house. It cooks fast with no smoke. This is the least common cooking method. The stove is expensive and the fuel is really expensive and sometimes not available. Just last month Matt went to buy paraffin and the gas station was out.
5. Hot plate.
Colleges may have put major bans on hot plates but here in Malawi it is the most popular choice for those with electricity. The electricity found here is not like the United States. It does not flow evenly and is not always powerful enough to run more than one big appliance. There's no way you can run a hot plate and a hair dryer.
No matter what method used, cooking in Malawi is a major chore. For a family of 8 a 3 brick fire starts at 4 or 5am and is kept going all day. It boils water for tea, heats bath water, cooks porridge for breakfast, nsima and greens for lunch and then again for dinner. It's an all day affair.
Next time on Kid's Korner:
How do you shower?