Some of my favourite posts on the Bagni di Lucca and Beyond blog are those featuring markets and shops in Italy (see this post). It is not that I am an enthusiastic shopper, I just enjoy seeing products and produce beautifully displayed.
In Mozambique (as in other less-developed countries), a lot of the daily business takes place along the road. With a constant stream of vehicles and pedestrians going by there are always potential customers. What I found interesting is that even with limited space, no fancy counters or containers, the people in Mozambique take care with how they display their goods.
Although there are stalls in a lot of places, one shopkeeper stands out. His business is along the main road north of Maputo. He has a wide variety of items available to both his local customers, and to tourists passing through. He speaks English which makes it easier for tourists to communicate with him – and he’s willing to negotiate a good price.
Recycling in Africa doesn’t mean breaking down glass, plastics etc. It means re-cycling a whole container!
Outside the main food store, there is a lot more . . .
Being an ex-Portuguese colony, Mozambican cuisine still retains a lot of the Portuguese flavours and spices. A big part of that is peri peri sauces and chillies.
African Birds Eye Chili is also called peri peri, pili pili, or piri piri. Pili pili is the Swahili word for ‘pepper pepper’. Other English language spellings may include pili pili in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or peri peri in Malawi, deriving from the various pronunciations of the word in parts of bantu language group speaking Africa. Piri piri is the spelling of the name as used in the Portuguese language, namely in the Portuguese speaking Mozambican community, to describe the African bird’s eye chili. “There’s a lot of debate about how the piri-piri pepper came to Portugal,” says Dave DeWitt, author of The Chile Pepper Encyclopedia (Morrow, 1999). “The peppers were originally brought back on Columbus’s voyage to the Americas. Most people believe that the Portuguese took the chiles to their colonies of Mozambique and Angola, where they were christened a Swahili word that means ‘pepper-pepper,’ and naturally cross-pollinated. Eventually, one of the varieties made its way to Portugal, where, for some reason, it retained its African name . . .
. . .Piri-piri sauce (used as a seasoning or marinade) is Portuguese in origin and “especially prevalent in Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa”. It is made from crushed chillies, citrus peel, onion, garlic, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika, pimiento, basil, oregano, and tarragon.
The small pestle and mortar mills below are probably meant as souvenirs or spice grinders, and are smaller versions of the much bigger corn mills used traditionally by African women. You can see a photograph of the real thing in this post.
If you do not live in an area where coconuts are a main crop, you probably would not have been able to guess the answer. The sharp, jagged tool on the side of the stool is for rasping the white coconut flesh out of the hard shell.
In a different place women set up their fruit and vegetable “shops”.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called yuca, mogo, manioc, mandioca and kamoting kahoy, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy, tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. It differs from the similarly-spelled yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub in the Asparagaceae family. Cassava, when dried to a starchy, powdery (or pearly) extract is called tapioca, while its fermented, flaky version is named garri.
Cassava is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for around 500 million people. Cassava is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava.
Cassava root is a good source of carbohydrates, but a poor source of protein. A predominantly cassava root diet can cause protein-energy malnutrition.
Elsewhere again, a stall owner has set up handmade jewellery, shells, carved items and other souvenirs for sale. Items are beautifully arranged on reed mats on the ground.
The instrument above looks like a small Balafon.
In a fixed-key balafon, the keys are suspended by leather straps just above a wooden frame, under which are hung graduated-size calabash gourd resonators. A small hole in each gourd is covered with a membrane traditionally of thin spider’s-egg sac filaments (nowadays more usually of cigarette paper or thin plastic film) to produce the characteristic nasal-buzz timbre of the instrument, which is usually played with two gum-rubber-wound mallets while seated on a low stool (or while standing using a shoulder or waist sling hooked to its frame).
So there is something for everyone!
Thank you to Willie and Theo van Zyl for allowing me to use their photographs for this post.