Food Field Note

Food in Botswana

When you’re traveling abroad you have chances to try new things, one of them being food. Sometimes it can be a scary, weird, tasty experience. Like the first time, I tried mophane (pronounced mo.-PA-nay) worms! On our first day of orientation, my study abroad director handed all of us a mophane worm and told us to eat together. Hesitantly I took a deep breath, closed by eyes, and just ate it. The mophane worm was actually passable and surprisingly crunchy.

Moments later, I found out that mopane worms were not really worms but spiny-backed caterpillars. They eat the leaves of the mophane trees that grow in northern Botswana. They are harvested by hand and squeezed out, then dried and salted. Mophane worms are sold throughout Gaborone, and a popular wild snack. I don’t get offered or eat mophane worms every day but, I do get a chance to eat and enjoy local food.

Batswana[1] love their meat, and most Botswana cuisine is centered on it. The most popular dishes is Seswaa (se-ss-waa). Seswaa one of my favorite dishes is made by boiling beef in water with salt and other spices until its soft and well done. The meat is then compressed with wooden spoon, similar to sheared beef. Botswana culture values sharing no matter how small something this. Meats are shared and distributed by ages.

When walking around town you will see many billboards advertising KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Chicken Licken and Nandos.  Fried chicken is one of the most favored foods for a Batswana. Fast food restaurants are very popular and can be found all throughout the cities and towns. Traditional chicken is known as Tswana chicken, also boiled for a long time and then fried.

Fat cakes are similar to doughnuts just without the hole in the middle. They are dough balls deep fried with a sweet taste. Not the most gluten free snack option, but a very popular sold out of small tuck shops or in front of buildings.  In fact at University of Botswana student center you can always

Most stews and meat dishes are eaten with staple grains and vegetables. Botswana’s traditional grains are maize, sorghum and pap.  Nowadays most Batswana purchase their grain already prepared and packaged.  It is made by slowly adding grounded grain to boiling water and stirring rapidly until is produced a paste. The mixture is then left to cook slowly until it becomes a soft texture, like mash potatoes. For breakfast these grains are also eaten porridge known as logal (pronounced lo-go-lea) is made from a sorghum with milk and sugar. A thicker version of the porridge can be eat for lunch or dinner accompanied by meat and vegetables such ad wild spinach or pumpkin.

What do people eat? 

Batswana eat a variety of foods including meats, chicken, fat cakes, stews, and vegetables.

What food did I try? 

I tried majority of traditional dishes with my host family. I have eaten a variety including meats, chicken, stews, and vegetables. I haven’t tried Fat Cakes, but hear there pretty tasty.

How did I feel when you tried it? 

Trying new food is fun and important part the experience that helps you understand culture. I always feel great after eating new foods. I haven’t got sick from stepping out of my comfort zone, yet. I plan to try everything that’s gluten and peanut free before I leave.

How is this food prepared?  Is this food connected to its environment? How? 

Batswana[2] love their meat, and most Botswana cuisine is centered on it. The most popular dishes is Seswaa (se-ss-waa). Seswaa one of my favorite dishes is made by boiling beef in water with salt and other spices until its soft and well done. The meat is then compressed with wooden spoon, similar to sheared beef. Botswana culture values sharing no matter how small something this. Meats are shared and distributed by ages.

When walking around town you will see many billboards advertising KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Chicken Licken and Nandos.  Fried chicken is one of the most favored foods for a Batswana. Fast food restaurants are very popular and can be found all throughout the cities and towns. Traditional chicken is known as Tswana chicken, also boiled for a long time and then fried.

Fat cakes are similar to doughnuts just without the hole in the middle. They are dough balls deep fried with a sweet taste. Not the most gluten free snack option, but a very popular sold out of small tuck shops or in front of buildings.  In fact at University of Botswana student center you can always

Most stews and meat dishes are eaten with staple grains and vegetables. Botswana’s traditional grains are maize, sorghum and pap.  Nowadays most Batswana purchase their grain already prepared and packaged.  It is made by slowly adding grounded grain to boiling water and stirring rapidly until is produced a paste. The mixture is then left to cook slowly until it becomes a soft texture, like mash potatoes. For breakfast these grains are also eaten porridge known as logal (pronounced lo-go-lea) is made from a sorghum with milk and sugar. A thicker version of the porridge can be eat for lunch or dinner accompanied by meat and vegetables such ad wild spinach or pumpkin.

Unfortunately, agriculture industry is Botswana is diminishing. Most of all the food we eat and drink are from South Africa. Many people that live in the cities do not farm to sustain their lives, purchase their   foods from grocery stores. Foods that transported into Botswana all have a carbon foot print because local farming is not being used. Small-scale farmers continue to struggle to support themselves and sell their crops into the market. In Botswana, most small-scale producers cannot compete with large commercial farmers and their livelihood continues to be threaten.  Although still largely depended on South Africa, Botswana’s government now understands the need to create a sustainable food industry. They are creating program to  support farmers and change the market, potentially reducing the carbon footprint on a large scale.


[1] The people of Botswana are known as Batswana

[2] The people of Botswana are known as Batswana

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