Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Location: Southern Africa, north of South Africa
Size: Almost 600,000 sq km; 47th largest in the world
        Slightly smaller than Texas
Geography: Landlocked
Population: Over 2 million; 144th largest in the world
Migration: 4.82 migrants/1000 population; 19th highest in the world
          Large influx from Zimbabwe in search of better economic opportunities
Capital: Gaborone
HIV/AIDS in Adults: 24.8%; 2nd highest in the world
Nationality adjectives: Motswana (singular), Botswana (plural)
Language: Officially English, although only spoken by 2.1% of the population
Economy: "Two major investment services rank Botswana as the best credit risk in Africa."  One of the world's fastest growing economies since gaining independence in 1966.
Olympics: Competed in eight Summer games, never winning a medal (before 2012)
Sources: CIA World FactbookWikipedia

The information I found on Botswana painted an interesting picture.  They have one of the fastest growing economies, yet such a huge AIDs prevalence.  They are making big strides in education, yet still have a large population living in poverty.  Perhaps this turmoil and time of change explains some of the simplicity of the recipes I found.  I needed a total of six ingredients for two dishes, three of which were salt, pepper, and water.

Sites about Botswana usually mentioned seswaa, but didn't have recipes.  They said it was beef boiled in a big pot and then beaten by men.  No, really.  Finally, I found this site that has a decent explanation plus a recipe.  The actual instructions are pretty far down the page.  A lot of sites mentioned Mealie Meal so I wanted to try that as well.

A weekend filled with plays and busy-ness and then a lack of internet ended up foiling my original cooking plans.  But fear not!  I didn't lose a week, but took advantage of a weeknight.  Don't expect to see that happening a lot...

The hardest part of this recipe was finding the beef brisket.  When I saw it at Harris Teeter I would have had to buy about five pounds, which was a bit excessive.  The Commissary hid theirs under some of the other beef, but they couldn't fool me!  Unfortunately it was boneless.  I went with it, though, since I didn't want to run around to anymore stores.  That comes next time

I must warn you that I just realized right now the big mistake I made with this one.  The recipe says 1 Kilo.  I did 1 pound.  Sigh.  Well that would explain some things.  I really need someone to "proofread" me before I make any decisions in the kitchen.
All of the ingredients for the seswaa.  Well, minus water.
What one pound of beef brisket looks like.  If only I knew what one kilo looked like...
All together now.
With water and pepper.
And that's really it.  You let it cook on low heat for a long time, never boiling.  It doesn't even say it should be covered.  That meant I had a lot of time before I had to start the Mealie Meal.
Kevin filling up my bike tires with air.  Tesla can't seem to figure out why he can't climb to the top.
Ever-present around the open door.  The weather has been great for this.
Not a great picture of her, but she makes herself more scarce and out of the camera's gaze.  If only I had one of her jumping up on the freezer despite our wall of cereal, causing the door to open and food to fall out...That was fun.
So, Mealie Meal.  I was a bit skeptical about this.  It doesn't seem to be...well, much.  Cornmeal, water, and salt.
See the stack of stuff in the background?  That is what happens when you go to Costco without clearing a lot of food out of your cupboards first.
Water and white cornmeal
All mixed together.
And that's really it.  Heat and then let sit.

When the meat was done, it was time for me to pound it.  Yeah, that didn't so much happen.  There were no bones to separate it from.  The pounding was a bit futile.
Pre-pounded.  It looked the same post-pounded.
The Mealie Meal was still sitting, because of course I hadn't factored that time in, but we were ready to eat the seswaa.
Yes, our table was a mess.  This included all of our salad toppings and dip for the bread we bought at the Farmer's Market.  Plus some other things...
This was another pretty solid meh.  I am not that surprised.  Clearly I did not use enough meat.  And there were no bones to glean flavor off of.  Could I have added more salt and pepper?  Probably.  Would it have made much of a difference?  I don't think so.  It was a simple dish, and therefore changing small parts, like missing bones, make a huge difference.

But wait, there's more!  The Mealie Meal had directions that you should pull some off of the greater glob, roll it between your fingers, and then eat.  I decided to document Kevin's journey.

 "Inoffensive."  Not much else to say here.  It didn't taste like anything.  Was it supposed to?  Unsure.  Overall, Botswana was inoffensive.  In general, there has been a streak of this in these countries.  It has been quite a while since I had to actually use spices.  I'm getting a little impatient for some!

Bill, thank you very much for your research!  You validated some of my choices and questioned some others.  We'll see what I can remember when I go to the store.  I like your idea of a guide by parts of the world.  Is this our newest business venture?  We'll, um, sell it!  Yeah.  Sounds good.

Everyone should get way more excited for next time.  Not only is it a big country that many people have probably eaten food from, but there is a mystery ingredient.  Something that if I had ever noticed it in the store before I probably would have said "Gross" and moved on.  I bet you can't wait!
My MSPaint skills are unrivaled.
Next time: Brazil

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