Matapa Cooking Class

Andrew and I spend so much time on buses that we try to walk as much as we can when ever we are in villages or cities. Today we decided to embark on a 6 mile walk to a shop on the other side of the town called machilla Magic. This is a little shop that was created to support local artisans in the area. All of the crafts in the shop are made from recycled materials by different members of the Vilanculos community. To date, the store employs 75 different families. While we didn’t purchase anything I was very impressed with the business model of the shop and the social impact it was having among many families in the community. The walk was well worth it to see the shop in person.
One main difference we have seen between Mozambique and other African countries is the use of bread more frequently with cuisine. During our walk this morning, Andrew graves several loaves of Portuguese bread (the same kind as in Portugal). The loaves are small and very light but delicious (especially when compared to other African breads).

After our little excursion we decided to go back home and rest a bit before meeting up with Zita at 3:00pm for our cooking class. We are our leftover fish dishes from the previous day for lunch, sat down and rested for a while, and then set off for Zita’a little restaurant.

When we arrived she had everything set up for us. We went with her to the market to buy Matapa leaves (cassava leaves), garlic, onion, peanuts, and coconut. These are all the ingredients that you need to make Matapa. Matapa is a type of thick green sauce that is served with prawns over rice or xima. The recipe was actually quite easy, and one that Andrew and I will definitely replicate when we go back home. We also learned how to cook calamari and prawns, Mozambican style. The evening was wonderful and we enjoy spending our time with Zita. We didn’t leave until after 8:00pm, because we were having such a good time and the food turned out delicious. Tomorrow we set off on the early bus to Inhambane so we best get to bed soon!


(Below: Andrew’s post)

Since Kylie and I decided to revise our original plan to go scuba diving (weather conditions were quite poor), we spent the morning getting our schedule organized for the next couple weeks. It’s amazing to me that we leave for the U.S. In a couple short weeks.

The feeling of home is bitter-sweet. Mostly sweet, but moments where I feel sad to leave come during our many adventurous activities! 

After a fair amount of planning, Kylie and I decided to walk to a shop called Mochilla Magic. We heard about it from several people in the area and decided it would be worth stopping to see. 

Mochilla Magic is somewhat of a cross between Musana, and local craft shops we see everywhere. They employ several families in the area to construct crafts that the shop then sells to tourists. The idea is that Mochilla Magic empowers families in the local area by teaching them a trade and supplementing their income.

However getting to the shop was no simple task. Since the tuktuk ride would be 200 Meticash ($5 USD), Kylie and I decided to do what we always do, walk the road to the shop. With our map in hand, we set out.

It really was our first time to walk Vilankulos and the small town/city was quite pretty. The streets were paved with cobblestone and Kylie kept commenting it looked like an old Portuguese street. 

The walk ended up being no small feat as in total it was 7km to the shop. We ended up buying fruit along the way to sustain us!

After visiting the shop briefly, we hiked the rest of the way home. We had heard from all the local business owners that a lady named Zita had the best food in Vilankulos. Since it had been a challenge to get ahold of her, we decided to pay her another visit.

We were in luck! She was home from work and was willing to teach us how to make matapa, a local favorite.

Zita took us into the market and purchased all the ingredients necessary to make matapa (cassava leaves, coconut, with whatever protein you prefer). As she and Kylie wandered the market I hung back and filmed so Kylie could have the clips as memories.

Once we gathered the items we needed from the market, we returned to Zita’s kitchen ready to cook!

Matapa takes time to prepare and a lot of work. Coconut has to be ground, the cassava leaves mashed, garlic chopped, and several other preparing steps. All throughout the cooking process Kylie and I chatted with Zita about her life, her challenges and the things that excite her. 

Her boss, the owner of the local dive shop doesn’t want her to start her own business because of the skills Zita brings to the kitchen. Zita on the other hand loves cooking, but hates working for a controlling lady. Her boss even threatened to fire her if she runs her restaurant in her off time. 

Despite the challenges Zita opened her restaurant and even is training a local boy in table setting etc. just like she was trained (from kitchen aid, to table staff, to chef!).

Suddenly Zita announced that five people had come to eat at her restaurant and the cooking began. I chopped and prepared the squid while Kylie worked on the prawns. I felt like I was working in an African restaurant and it was a lot of fun. 

I find the memories I truly treasure are those I build with people. Cooking with Zita was fun not only because we made some great food, but also because of the conversation we had with this truly incredible lady. 

Tomorrow we set off for Tofo with our new Spanish friends. Another early early 3am start for us!

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