And the combination did not disappoint. In between the sweet taste of crunchy maize kernels and sips of that dry 2009 cellar collection, I think I was pretty much in an elevated state of being (and no, I wasn’t drunk… it was just one glass!).
After all, who says you can’t remix cuisine?
I know many people would be mortified to think I desecrated the sanctity of wine-drinking by doing what I did; isn’t that why toastmasters’ groups exist, why people visit vineyards in the south of France to understand and appreciate the fine art of picking grapes and maturing them in barrels, deciding what full-bodied or piquant flavour goes with which cheese or fish or meat? Isn’t that the whole art and romance of wine?!
Well, I beg to differ. I am not your conventional sort of girl, so perhaps that’s why I don’t believe that all rulebooks are made to exist as they were or are. That’s why I wear colours like it’s the end of the world and do what I like with my hair and accessories. That’s why I don’t follow recipe books or normal working hours or even follow the DIY instructions that come with a newly unboxed gizmo. And that’s why I am drinking my white wine with my chibage and rocking it!
See, it’s a culture of adventure that I have invested in. To be me, I have to remix the things I like sometimes and make them speak authentically of, and about, me. To be me, I have to stop following the straight lines and explore what happens around the sharp angles and turns called innovation.
And as the world becomes more and more multi-cultural, it’s something we as Zimbabweans have to be open to.
It’s something that I salute our southern brothers and sisters, the South Africans, for mastering quite beautifully. Forgive me if I give them too much appreciation for your liking (pasi ne-xenophobia!), but I feel they have shown Africans how to wear western hairdos, Africanising the mohawk and bouffant look and re-invigorating the 1960s’ Afro-chic style which Stoned Cherrie and others were pioneers in re-introducing in the early 2000s (PS: east and western Africa have played a part on this front too, so don’t rain bricks on me for not mentioning them in detail!).
I love that in South Africa, you see girls rocking that very British shoe apparel, the brogue, at the same time wearing some traditional African print dress and accessorising it with some eastern-inspired earrings and bangles just to keep the rhythm going. I also love it when South African music genres like house and kwaito infuse their sound with something completely ‘out there’ like Hindi music or even good old Dolly Parton’s country yodelling!
It’s a sign of the times; a time when we should be proud to embrace what makes us who we are – both as Zimbabweans and citizens of the world.
And heck, I am not asking us all to remix things like I do (you might find the thought of a maize cob in one hand and a glass of wine in the other totally off-putting); but I am at least hoping you can get what good value there is in opening up to bit of adventure.
And I admit that we are doing that anyway. We have Shona hip-hop stars, film directors who have managed to localise themes we know happen but only seem to see on international series like ‘Sex and The City’, and fashion designers reworking western themes with a keen eye for local appeal.
But are we supporting them?
I remember once going for dinner at a local hotel where they sautéed macimbi (yes, caterpillars!) in olive oil and garlic, deep fried Kapenta and served herbed sadza and other delights.
Boy, was that an adventure for my palette!
But sadly, I soon learnt, the meal option was gradually being phased out because diners weren’t that keen on having their local fare ‘westernised’. And anyway, if they wanted sadza and Kapenta for supper, they would have gone down to the seedy restaurant on the corner where a plate wouldn’t have seen them reach as deep into their pockets as the hotel demanded.
A pair of women's brogues.
What bad sports we sometimes are!
From my perspective, I see so much potential for innovation. Can you imagine the impact it would have if we could stop whingeing about the infiltration of Chinese and Nigerian goods on our markets and innovate AND support those who innovate?! Has anyone out there thought of befriending a few Chinese folks and doing some innovative stuff with African prints designed to traditional Chinese dress designs? What about a mix of Shona or Ndebele vibes to a Naija beat o? And don’t say it’s not possible until you’ve tried, abeg!
That’s the only way I see Zimbabwe getting out of this funk we are in. There’s no way we’ll grow without accepting the multiple influences that we find in this nation. And we have to find a way to make those influences work for us.
So as I close, I hope some feisty mind is already thinking about writing a cookbook with a title to the tune of “The Perfect Guide to Zimbabwean Cuisine the French Way”, or “The Little Book of Zimbabwean-Style Baking”… I don’t know about you but my granny in rural Chimanimani makes some of the meanest bread I have ever tasted and it’s made from stuff she grows in her fields (or should I say, it’s all organic to sound suitably lah-di-dah!).
One of my favourite quotes says, “Innovate or die.”
Yes, my comrades, we’ve innovated before. Remember how we burnt money and how some of you sneaky ones even started forging burial orders to get cash in 2008?
If you did it then, in the worst of times, what’s stopping you now when Zimbabwe seems to be coming alive again with possibility?
And if you want help with that cookbook, I will gladly sample your dishes. No cost!