Carl Joshua Ncube cooking up a storm in Victoria Falls
BY RYAN TRUSCOTT
Ever thought of eating your grasshoppers with honey? Or spicy stinkbugs?
Zimbabwean comedian-turned-celebrity-chef Carl Joshua Ncube has just the recipe for you in his new e-book highlighting healthy and sustainable ways of eating.
Ncube, who moved to Victoria Falls last year to live off-grid in a converted bus with his wife Nelsy, has just brought out an e-cookbook called Chikafu — the 100 recipe diary of a Zimbabwean celebrity chef. Chikafu is the Shona word for food.
The book is being sold — sustainably — via WhatsApp to Zimbabwean customers.
His 100 recipes and pictures are a feast for the eyes on a phone screen.
But what Ncube’s really interested in is using ingredients that are at hand in rural Zimbabwe.
“I noticed that a lot of ingredients we use in Zimbabwe tend to be pests that would otherwise damage crops,” he told RFI via a zoom call from a hotel lounge during a day-trip to Victoria Falls from his village home.
Mountain of the lion
One insect featured in the recipes is the stinkbug, a small insect with a shield-like body that emits strong-smelling fluids when handled.
In some parts of Zimbabwe, including Victoria Falls, stinkbugs swarm in vast numbers ahead of the cool season looking for places to hibernate.
They can be harvested by the bagful. Once you get past their smell, they make excellent seasoning.
“The actual flavour is like a chicken or beef stock that has hardened. It’s quite fatty and crunchy on the outside,” says Ncube.
His book recommends deep frying one kilogramme of the bugs and drying them overnight.
The crucial next step is to blend them with pepper corns and cayenne pepper, according to Ncube’s recipe.
Processing insects with a blender helps people to get over the obvious psychological obstacles, he says.
“The palate adjusts to it when you add it as part of a spice blend.”
The magic ingredient in Ncube’s grasshopper and honey dish? Cottage cheese.
For Ncube, who has diabetes, the decision to start living off the grid and exploring traditional foods was a way of finding more healthy and sustainable ways of eating and living.
He and his wife converted an old bus into their home in the village of Ntabayengwe, near Victoria Falls. The village name means “mountain of the lion” and lions do occasionally pass through.
Ncube knew he was on the right track when, on his very first off-grid morning, he cooked an omelette over an open fire using free-range eggs and freshly-picked green peppers and onions.
Assault on the senses
“I’d never tasted food so fresh in my life,” he said. Once his neighbours in the village discovered there was a celebrity living in their midst, daily deliveries of fresh food began.
“People would deliver chickens to my house; they’d deliver eggs.
“Stuff was coming straight from the fields, you could still see the dirt on the vegetables.
“It was just such an incredible first week living off grid and an assault on the senses.”
Better known for his wise cracks about life in Zimbabwe and tongue-in-cheek jabs at politicians and other celebrities, Ncube says that cooking is as much a part of his DNA as comedy.
While his late father, a woodwork teacher, was a part-time comedian, his mother is a retired home economics lecturer well-versed in food and nutrition.
Zimbabwe’s rich culinary past was undervalued during the colonial years that ended with independence in 1980, said Ncube.
“What I’ve realised is that we’re not so different from a culinary perspective, globally.
“We seem to have the same things: we do broths and soups; we dry-age (meat), we hang, we cure.
“All of these processes exist but the language is different,” he explained.
He’s critical of the culinary oversimplification that saw sadza, a stiff porridge made from maize meal, declared the national staple.
Ingredients never imagined
“It was put in all our textbooks, which is not correct to do because no country in the world describes itself by one dish.”
But as much as Chikafu is about delving into the past, unearthing overlooked ways of cooking and celebrating a rich tradition, it’s also about imagining the future of Zimbabwean cuisine.
The first section of the book pays tribute to traditional ways of preparing mopane worms (an abundant moth caterpillar harvested from the leaves of mopane trees in western and south-eastern Zimbabwe), sweet potatoes and other staples.
Readers are then introduced to “ingredients used in ways they never imagined.”
This is seen, for instance, in a recipe that’s a new take on Chibuku, the popular opaque beer made from fermented maize, sorghum and barley.
He recommends mixing the brew with vanilla ice cream, chocolate milk and syrup.
Chibuku drinkers would likely be scandalised, but Ncube isn’t worried.
“I have a right as a Zimbabwean to be inventive, because whatever it is that we call tradition, was an invention at some point,” he said.
“So, I want to invent.” – Radio France Internationale
Gilmore Tee makes it to the Forty under 40 Africa list
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
Global Citizen, Curator, Forbes 30 Alumni and Media Practitioner – Gilmore Tee made the Forty under 40 Africa List for 2023, alongside some outstanding personalities such as BBc’s Nyasha Michelle, South Africa’s Yershen Pillay, Vumile Msweli and Algeria’s Toumiat Lakhdar.
Gilmore is known for his works with Paper Bag Africa which houses the PAN African lifestyle and cross-networking event – The PiChani, European Film Festival Zimbabwe, I Wear My Culture and eMoyeni Digital Storytelling.
The 33-year-old is known for his work in the creative industry and brands such as Jameson, Fastjet, Food Lovers Market, GQ South Africa and Glamour Magazine.
Earlier this year the organisers of the Forty under 40 Africa initiative, Xodus Communications Limited, shortlisted 126 nominees from 24 African countries. The initiative is aimed at recognizing and celebrating emerging leaders under the age of 40 who demonstrate or impact personally and/ or professionally through their exceptional leadership.
The personalities nominated this year cut across countries such as; South Africa, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Sudan, Morocco, Benin, Mauritius, Algeria, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Algeria, Botswana, Tunisia, Eswatini, Lesotho and Gambia.
At the event which was held on the March 25 at the Leonardo Hotel in Sandton City, South Africa, Gilmore was announced as a winner and part of the 40 lists, alongside other 39 outstanding practitioners from across the African continent.
Across Zimbabwe, British scones are the taste of home
HARARE – A sweet doughy treat from Britain has become a beloved part of Zimbabwe’s national cuisine, where despite the country’s colonial past, mothers and chefs alike now claim the pastry as their own.
The scone, which Brits normally enjoy with afternoon tea, is ubiquitous in Harare, the southern African country’s capital.
A breakfast favourite in these parts, it can be found everywhere from high-end eateries to the market stalls of impoverished townships.
“We love scones. They are not British, they are ours, our local scones,” Nyari Mashayamombe, a rights activist, says as she leaves an upmarket restaurant in Harare’s Belgravia district, its garden dotted with open umbrellas
Dense yet airy, Zimbabwean scones are the result of the intercultural mix that came with colonisation, says Mashayamombe, a red-haired 42-year-old who is also a singer and media personality.
In “fancy places like here… a beautiful scone goes as high as six bucks,” she said, referring to the American dollars that have become Zimbabwe’s parallel and preferred currency.
“It’s worth it.”
A few kilometres away at a market in Harare’s oldest township of Mbare, scones are impossible to find after midday.
“We sold them all this morning. They move quickly,” one vendor says.
The main communal bakery in Mbare, a bustling working-class district, opens at dawn.
Tawanda Mutyakureva, 26, arrives at around five in the morning to his work station, measuring two square metres, where he has to bend over to spread the dough on a knee-height countertop.
Every day he cranks out around 200 scones in an overheated room with cinder-block walls, lit by two bulbs hanging from a wire.
Brandishing a cookie cutter, he works quickly to whip out one batch after another, with each scone selling for 25 American cents.
In the hot, humid atmosphere redolent of yeast, his wife – with their baby strapped to her back – helps him with buttering the pastries and clearing plates.
Resellers come in to buy 10 or 20 pieces that will be sold at small grocery stores.
Memory Mutero, 46, was at the bakery to buy bread, since she makes her own scones at home.
“I make scones for my three kids. It takes about 45 minutes,” she tells AFP.
Her ingredients are simple: flour, salt, yeast, sugar, butter and milk.
But at the Bottom Drawer, an upscale tearoom in Harare, cook Veronica Makonese is unimpressed after tasting a scone brought back from the township.
“There is no milk in those, they used water!” the 46-year-old claims.
A white kerchief on her head, Makonese says she makes her own buttermilk for her scones, to control temperature and acidity levels, and uses only real butter to ensure the proper taste and softness.
Her boss, Sarah Macmillan, a 53-year-old Zimbabwean, says she longs for the scones she would eat as a child.
Back then, two shops in the centre of Harare, now closed, competed for the crown of best scone in the country, and Macmillan wanted her tearoom to make some that are “just as good”.
Macmillan says the secret of the little cake’s enduring success, in a country struggling with endemic poverty, is simple: “It’s very filling and affordable.” – AFP
South African rapper AKA gunned to death
BY CHRIZELDA KEKANA
Rapper AKA, real name Kiernan Forbes, has died.
TshisaLIVE confirmed that the 35-year-old rapper was shot dead outside a popular restaurant on Florida Rd in Durban.
Police confirmed that a 35-year-old male and another unidentified male had been shot dead on Friday.
Speaking to TimesLIVE, ALS paramedic Garrith Jamieson explained that just after 10.15pm this evening they responded to a shooting incident where two men sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
“On arrival, paramedics met total chaos and a scene where two men, believed to be in their late 30s, sustained multiple gunshot wounds. Paramedics assisted the men and unfortunately the first male had sustained multiple gun shot wounds and showed no signs of life and was declared deceased at the scene.”
He said a second male was found in critical condition and died despite advanced life support intervention due to extensive injuries.
It remains unclear what the motive for the shooting was. SAPS and Metro were on scene and closed the road to assist with the investigation.
AKA is among SA’s best rappers and has produced and written many hit songs including Fela In Versace, Baddest and others since he broke into the industry over a decade ago.
He shares a daughter, Kairo, with DJ Zinhle and was in a relationship with rapper Nadia Nakai. TimesLIVE
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