The African market is a favorite of mine. I am always amazed at what I can find and at how things are sold. However, the Zwedru market is a mystery to me. I can’t help but wonder if the presentation and amount of items (lots of clothing and ‘bling’ in the front and sparse food in the back) says something about priorities or if it’s for some other reason that I have yet to learn.
As you enter from the main street you are surrounded by shirts (World’s Best Grandpa), jeans (with jewel studded pockets), high heels (to walk through the mud/sand/potholes/puddles in), women’s underwear (with pockets in the front?!), bags (with Barack Obama’s picture), soaps and perfumes, sunglasses, jewelry, and batteries. If you can make it through without spending all of your Peace Corps living allowance on these enticing items, you will eventually reach the food section waaaaaayyyy in the back. Here you will find a few ‘essential’ items that can somehow be put together to make a meal (not sure how yet, but I believe it’s possible). Without looking too hard, you can find rice (about 4 different kinds), hot peppers (which burn more coming out than going in), cassava, rice, onions, paprika, salt, rice, okra powder (the fresh okra has not been looking so fresh), oils (I think palm and peanut), a few fish (if you don’t mind swatting away some flies), and rice. I was lucky to spot some beans (I have no idea what kind but I bought them anyways) and a green leaf that I have no idea how to cook and is an acquired taste (we had it during training). Over ripe bananas and expensive plantains are around somewhere sometimes and rumors have it that pineapple and cucumbers are also here somewhere sometimes. I found homemade peanut butter pounded with sand that is supposed to be removed after pounding (still haven’t figured out how or why), but the removal process has not yet been perfected (Peter Pan Gritty)! If anyone has a recipe using these ingredients (other than rice and beans which has sustained me for 2 days now), please send it my way! I still have a lot of town to explore and hope that some of the Lebanese shops will have pasta and other hard to find goodies. In the meanwhile I will stick to my rice and beans and street food. I’ve taken to buying my lunch from a lady in town who sells her pre-cooked food out of a plastic bucket under a beach umbrella. Her specialty (ok, the only thing she sells) is cassava that is mashed up to a couscous-like consistency on which she puts hot peppers, oil and a whole fried fish (with little teeny weeny bones that are easier to just chew and swallow than pick out). She serves it to go in a plastic bag.I know where she shops for her ingredients! I’ve told myself that if I keep eating the hot peppers I will get used to them and not react in the ways I currently am. A surprise find this weekend was at the local ‘pastry’ shop.. spaghetti sandwiches! It is exactly what it sounds like…. spaghetti on a bun. Not only does this tempt my senses, it gives me hope that someone sells boxes of spaghetti locally!
Here is a typical Liberian meal (this was our first meal at the training site so its much fancier than usual!)...
... and here is my first attempt at local rice and beans. I gave some to the house maid and she said they were "good."
Ok, my multivitamins are calling….