Pretty much every place I go, I find some kind of food that I fall in love with and miss like woah when I leave. Here, (at least so far) that food is pap (or, since I am apparently Shona now, sadza).
It’s made from mielie meal(or corn meal stuff), and has the consistency of Play-Dough. (The process of making pap involves you first making porridge, and then adding more mielie meal for the thicker consistency.) And the funnest part (at least for me), you eat it with your hands. Everybody eats it with gravy and chicken, but I prefer beans, spinach, and cabbage. You grab a piece off the pile of pap on your plate, dip it in or scoop up your chosen pap-accompaniment, and then you hope that not too much falls all over while you try to quickly get it into your mouth.
The first few weeks I was here, everybody would always ask me if I needed a spoon to eat my pap, and my response was always no. If I am going to eat traditional food, I am going to eat it in the traditional way. Everybody would give me a doubtful look, and then hand me my plate. And nobody can believe I actually enjoy eating these foods that they eat all the time. I have gotten some laughs because I apparently eat my pap funny (I think it is the split second of panic that it is all going to fall on the floor before I get it into my mouth that contributes to the hilarity of me eating pap), but in my defense, I have only been eating pap for a few weeks, and these people have been eating it their whole lives.
Since I first ate pap, my pap-eating skills have been improving. In fact, I have even moved on and learned to cook it (so some people can get excited about me making fun food we can play with). Last night, I made pap all by myself, and it turned out fantastic! (Despite the fact that the family that lives here got home when I was in the middle of mixing in the last mealie meal, and the dad wanted to finish it for me. I told him no, I am making it. How am I supposed to learn to make it if I am never given the chance to make it? And the mom said I did a great job.) So look out for my mad pap-making skills when I get back. And hopefully my pap-eating skills will improve some more and become mad as well.
As an update since I originally wrote this: I have made the pap almost every day. And every time I make it, "it's nice." FTW