Sunday, June 8, 2008

In the pantry

Lusaka is the capital of Zambia. It's a modern city, albeit a modern African city. In the capital most normal goods and some specialty items are easily available (for a price). We've had fun sorting out what we can find some days (vanilla beans! salt-packed capers! tahini! flax seed!) and what we cannot (american-style brown sugar, unsalted butter, decaf anything) and what we can do without (pecans, paper towels, imported tea) and what goes in the cart no matter what the price (unapologetically, NUTELLA!). I initially balked at the price of liquid hand soap here but broke down and bought some, imported from Italy, and it is really lovely soap, worth every kwacha! In-season fruits and veggies are plentiful and available from the supermarkets (Melissa, Spar, Shoprite) , from farm-produce shops (BizzieBee, Kachelo) or along the side of the road (good for piles of tomatoes, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and what ever is 'in season').

There is a strange phenomenon of goods being fully stocked on the shelves one day and then..
'poof' they are gone and one never knows if they will appear again. This leads to a little hoarding habit among expats. One month is was butter that went mysteriously missing (b/c of an outbreak of hoof and mouth), the next, sugar (b/c of a nationwhide sugar shortage). For a while I couldn't find a single set of measuring spoons and now I cannot find a leaf rake for any price. I also had a really really hard time tracking down any baking soda - it took me a good month of looking every time I went to the store (many different stores) to get some just as we ran out.

Since I first wrote this...nutella has been the latest casualty. I cannot find it anywhere for any price. tragedy. But decaf coffee showed up once and I saw some 'caramel sugar' which is as close to brown sugar as we're going to get.

And I still find it odd that chocolate chips haven't caught on anywhere besides the US.

Here is a collection of some things from our pantry - or 'larder' if you prefer...

"Melissa" is a Lebonese-owned shp and has interesting imported goods like this - tahini!

Don't let the lable fool you. It's not brown sugar as you know it, although it IS brown. In Seattle I usually bought 'raw' sugar - as far as I can tell that is what this is. It is for several reasons illegal to import sugar into Zambia. One reason is that Zambia fortifies it's sugar with Vitamin A and imported sugar is not fortified. The border is a bit pourous and I think if we live by Malawi you can probably get other sugar and certainly un-fortified sugar (gasp!)

There are many Indians living in Zambia and one can get spices easily at the supermarket or in specialty shops.

Zambia produces such things as Macademia Nuts! Yum!

Another deceiving lable. It says it is bacon, which is a step up from "macon" (which I can't figure out, paloney either...) but, alas, it is no Hemplers. There is a Zambian, Swiss-trained butcher (the brother-in-law of one of Todd's colleagues) who does a lovely Westfalia Ham and who sometimes stocks ;ocal unsalted Zambian butter at a good price- this was a great discovery! This beats the 48,000 kwacha I spent for salted butter imported from Ireland during the butter crisis....

Owen gets one of these cookies with his school lunch every day!

Would you have guessed in a billion years that in this little bag is exactly 2 cups of buttermilk?

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