South African Nachos
We’re spoiled in North America.
Most of us know that and accept it.
We hear in the media that there are food shortages in Developing Countries and shake our heads in disappointment. But we don’t really fathom what a food shortage means. After all, when it comes to food, we have the best of the best! Available 24/7 all year round!
Not like those backward African nations that export so much rice that they then have grain shortages. Why don’t those Africans do something about such an impractical system?
If only they could.
The concurrent trends of technology advances and globalization have led to huge agro-businesses controlling a significant portion of the world’s food production. The common people – whether poor or middle-class – are increasingly segregated from food production and distribution.
I know that. In theory. Just like I know that mass causes gravitational pull in theory but actually I just take scientists’ word for it.
In South Africa, though, I’ve experienced minor inconveniences regarding food that put my knowledge in a new light.
For example, a lot of the fruit and vegetables here are terrible. That really surprised me. Why are the apples so gross? Why are the tomatoes so flavourless?
As my friends have explained to me, you can’t get good fruit in Joburg because it’s all exported.
“You want a good South African pineapple? Go to London!” one friend joked.
They told me that you can get good fruit in Cape Town and sometimes Durban because it’s all exported from the ports. People in those cities know people who know people who can get a hold of the good stuff.
Imagine smuggling fruit back into your country!
Another example of food inconveniences is that sometimes the stores run out of certain foods and you have to wait for them to restock, which can take a while.
Last week I wanted to buy tortilla chips. I was going to a dinner party and wanted to bring Mexican food. The Mexican food is another thing that’s terrible here! Which astonished me because they have so many of the same basic ingredients: avocados, corn, beans, peppers, etc. But nachos are made with Doritos, cheese, chakalaka, and avocado. Sometimes it isn’t even cheddar cheese but cream cheese! I didn’t know nachos could be even heavier and unhealthier, but apparently anything is possible!
Anyways, I wanted to make 7 Layer Dip (refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, chopped veggies, and cilantro – minus the meat to make it vegetarian) and home-made salsa for the party. But both these things required tortilla chips to go with the dips. I’d seen tortilla chips in two separate health food stores (weird place, right?) so last week I set out to buy them.
First place was out of chips on Tuesday. Ok. No big deal. They were out of a lot things since the city has basically shut down over the Christmas holidays. I’ll just go to the other store in a couple days.
Second store was out of chips on Thursday. Dinner party was on Monday so nothing to be anxious about. Nevertheless, I began thinking of Plan B food to bring.
Luckily I visited the first store again on Saturday morning and – lo and behold – they had restocked tortilla chips! Mexican food was an option again!
I also bought Doritos. Just to give it a South African twist.
It was slightly disconcerting for me to not be able to walk into any store and buy exactly what I wanted. It took me four months to buy sesame oil! For some reason, even the huge big box grocery stores were frequently sold out.
Then again, isn’t that what life is supposed to be like? Sometimes the basic things are inconveniencing, but that’s ok. You just roll with the punches and learn to make substitutes. No big deal.
For me, anyways.
Because I still haven’t experienced an actual food shortage.