Originally written on February 17, 2015
I love to bake and luckily my family-in-the-bush has an oven. Last week my host mom bought bananas and asked me to make Banana Bread. The only recipe book available was in Afrikaans. Like English, Afrikaans has Germanic language roots so I was able to decipher the ingredients, and relied on previous quick bread baking experience for the rest. We were out of flour but Mam has voiced concerns about our mealie (SA version of cornmeal) surplus, and I decided to attempt a South African Mealie-Banana Bread or in Afrikaans Piesangbrood (with way less margarine and sugar than the recipe originally called for). When I poured the sugar, dead bugs were mixed in with the crystals. Like my Mam, I do not like wasting food so I decided to pick the 5 bugs out of the sugar.
It took 10 minutes but I accomplished the task and started to measure the Mealie. There was much more Mealie than bugs but I lost count of how many dead insects were in the cup. The organisms were dead, there was no fecal matter present, and they probably would incinerate in the oven heat. I decided to take my chances and came out with a delicious Banana-mealie bread that both my family and the trainees enjoyed. Plus, the cooking adventure made a great weekend story for isiZulu class!
For some places in rural South Africa, it can be a minimum two hour taxi ride to obtain a basic grocery item like sugar. In America, I would be the first to throw out a case of sugar with bugs in it. Here, I cannot afford to be wasteful and learned that it was still a bag of sugar with extra protein. It made me wonder how much food Americans waste every year.