As is fitting for someone who worships Anthony Bourdain, I like to consider myself a foodie. I think eating the local food while traveling is one of the best ways to experience a new culture. Some of my favorite travel memories include tucking into a big steaming pot of pho in Hanoi or scouting out an authentic ceviche place in Lima. When I came to Swaziland, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect food-wise, but I’ve quickly learned.
The staple food in Swaziland is pap. It’s basically a cornmeal mush (or “porridge”) as they call it that serves as stomach filler alongside whatever meat or beans dish and gravy is being served. It’s…a little gross. I’m not a fan. But hey, when you’re hungry, you’re hungry!
Chicken is probably the most commonly eaten meat here. It’s cooked all sorts of ways: in a stew, fried, stewed, grilled, in a stew…oh wait, I think I’m repeating myself here. I’m not a massive fan of the chicken stew. But the street food of choice here is chicken dust, which I love, even when it’s served with pap! It’s grilled chicken with lots of spices and even some chili sauce thrown on for good measure. No dust to be found.Another big thing here are braais, a South African style barbeque usually featuring spicy sausages. Braais are appropriate for every celebration here. Christmas? Braai! Favorite soccer team wins? Braai! Bored? Braai!
As far as eating out goes, there are a few western-style restaurants in major expat areas like Mbabane and the Gables. Thyme Café in Mbabane is a great place for sandwiches while Ocean Basket in both Mbabane and the Gables has SUSHI! But for something quick and easy, there’s always Nando’s, an obsession of mine from my time in London. Spicy chicken sandwiches! Peri-peri sauce! When I’m feeling especially in touch with my inner Donna Meagle, that’s how I treat myself.
What do I eat most of the time? I cook for myself. I actually have a pretty nice setup (minus the running water), with a fridge, hot plate, and electric kettle as well as space for cooking. Cooking here has actually become one of my favorite pastimes and ways to de-stress. Sometimes I make easy things like grilled cheese or pasta, while other times I get a little experimental and go for sausage bean stew or coconut milk curry with pink lentils! You can just call me Lily Flay.