Ditch the fork: it’s all finger food here

Rebecca Jacobson
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No, your host did not forget the silverware. Malawians tend to eat with their hands, regardless of what’s on the menu. This can feel awkward when there’s rice on your plate, but it’s really the only way to eat nsima, the Malawian dietary staple. Nsima is a stiff, sticky maize porridge, carefully molded into oblong blobs. It’s next to tasteless, but comforting in that mushy, warm, I-don’t-need-to-chew kind of a way. Unless there’s nsima in the meal, many Malawians say, you haven’t eaten. Ball some porridge between your fingers, scoop up a generous quantity of relish, and stuff it all into your mouth. Try to keep one hand clean, or else you’ll end the meal with ten gluey fingers.


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