Tuesday, August 16, 2011

O Que É Xima?

What is xima, you want to know? I'm so glad you asked.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Xima is the whitish blob on the right. It's cornmeal with water. Think grits or polenta without salt. It's breakfast, lunch and dinner in northern Mozambique. Kind of like rice in Asia, but less nutritious and without banchan. In case you were wondering, the pumpkin leaf metapa pictured to its left is a luxury; most locals eat handfuls of xima without any side dishes.

There's not much more to say about the dish (and I kind of don't want to talk about it more than I have to) but I thought I should explain the importance of xima to contextualize the Millennium Maize Mills project.

Why maize mills are relevant: Corn is by far the main staple crop here, and xima is how almost all of it is prepared and consumed. This is the good stuff that local women pay two meticais per kilo to have milled so they don't have to spend hours pounding it at home.

Why the vitamin fortification concept is relevant: But this is also the stuff that exacerbates malnutrition in the region. Corn, on its own, lacks several key nutrients, and thus needs to be complemented by other foods for a complete diet; even if xima were available throughout the year (which it sadly is not), its nutritional deficiencies would still be an issue.