The Fiery Food of Mozambique

We’re packed to the hilt with divers and gear. Suddenly husband yells: “Hold on!”. The car hurtles down the first dune and the engine screams in protest at an ungodly pace up the next. Bums lift of seats, heads connect with roof, gear flies everywhere and everyone groans. After hours of this we reach our destination with bums numb and heads bumpy. It was worth it. Tonight we’ll eat Suzie’s grilled barracuda and home made ice cream. Tomorrow we’ll dive with large pelagic fish on reefs of great and unspoiled beauty.

The abrupt end of the road at the border between South Africa and Mozambique comes as a surprise. There is 10 km of sand dunes left to our campsite in Punta D’Oro, Mozambique. It takes us hours to cover the distance. We’re in the ugliest car on the planet. Our mini van, the Toyota Venture, is boxed shaped with pink and purple stripes and curtains in front of the windows. The “road” requires a four wheel drive. Mine is in the shop with a seized engine, so husband’s adventure Venture to the rescue.

I was 24 and single when I left South Africa for the first time as a recreational diver to go and dive with whale sharks and hammerheads in Punta Malengane, a coastal village in southern Mozambique. It is drift diving far out to sea at its finest with beautiful coral, fish and game fish with the odd shark thrown in for your diving pleasure.

After I got married, I went back to Punta d’Oro (Point of Gold) as a certified scuba instructor with my students, husband and son. Here we experienced the local food first hand. Fresh seafood to the likes of shrimp so fresh, it crawled in the buckets, fresh barracuda cooked in news paper over coals buried deep in the sand, fiery hot chicken, succulent tropical fruits and a home made strawberry ice cream (Suzie’s ice cream), the likes of which I will never forget.

My fondest memory of traveling to Mozambique, is of my son-Craig-snorkeling with dolphins for the first time. He was 8 and on the dive boat with us. We were far out to sea, with land just a speck on the horizon, waiting to do a deep dive on a spectacular reef. There a pod of dolphins welcomed us before our dive and he was in the water with them in a flash. After our dives, we would swim in the waves and here I taught him to body surf. At sunset we delve into cuisine good enough to remember after almost 18 years. We camped close to the beach and ate at large communal tables in a “boma”, a reed like structure with palm leaves on the roof, with fellow divers from all over the world. Fast friendships were formed within days.

My husband-Stan-makes the best Portuguese piri-piri sauce and uses it over chicken that he slow cooks for hours. The sample recipe is from the book under construction and in the Recipes section on the home page. To discover the full 3 course Mozambique meal, please see the book when it becomes available. More about Mozambique food appears in the Foreign Lands section of the Home Page

Photos by me

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