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When food festival celebrates heritage, promotes tourism

Life & Style
Food festival

FOOD and music have always been considered a perfect combination that virtually dominates our lives and has the magnetic power to bring communities together.

Worldwide food festivals are becoming an important part of people’s lives bringing unique and memorable food and drink experiences.

The recently held Good Food Festival was a remarkable success as a mixture of musical sounds echoed throughout the Harare Botanical Gardens, setting a good tone and mood for the day.

The venue proved to be an ideal location due to its serenity and rich diverse indigenous and exotic flora.

The festival attracted stakeholders such as smallholder farmers, farm equipment suppliers, food processors and manufacturers, government and non-governmental organisations that promote traditional farming methods.

As a celebration of its 10th anniversary this year, the festival offered more than just food, it proved its significant role in preserving local heritage.

It was also a platform to build smart partnerships and drive innovations in the traditional food value chain.

The platform focused on under-utilised indigenous foods namely rapoko, millets, marula, bambara nuts, baobab, cassava, tamarind, mopani worms, honey and mushrooms, among others.

The people who attended the festival were just amazing too.

Open air chefs prepared typical Zimbabwean traditional dishes with a classy touch, and the tantalising aroma would entice one to try the traditional delicacies that were on offer.

Chefs worked hard on the menus that pleased the palates of many a guest.

The day began with a traditional breakfast that brought a unique traditional sense of deep African roots and innovation.

The main dish in the morning was warm, yummy mopane worms and millet instant porridge, developed by the Food and Nutrition Council, a government department in collaboration with three local and two foreign universities.

The porridge, a mixture of mopane worms and small grains very rich in protein and micronutrients, was enticing.

There were also sugar-free instant cereals in three varieties: Baobab flavour, whole grain sorghum and whole grain millet.

There were also finger millet cookies and queen cakes. Along with this we had tamarind juice, baobab juice, fresh sugar cane with ginger juice.

To round off the breakfast dish, one had the option of several types of juices and teas such as the makoni tea, the popular zumbani tea, baobab coffee and rossella drink.

For lunch, someone who would not want to go for the usual white maize sadza or white rice, there was something of different colour and flavour.

Traditionally finger millet meals have some grits and sand, but on this day all traditional meals were grit and sand-free such that even children enjoyed it to the very last crumb.

For sure, the chefs did what they know best, the meals were prepared in a simple way, but with much attention and appeal to the eyes and taste buds.

 The list of foods on display was endless; each stand one visited there was something unique.

The level of innovation ranging from traditional cosmetics, stock-feeds, snacks, beverages and traditional bakeries and confectioneries was amazing.

Finger millet with honey pancake got people asking for the recipe, pearl millet with steam-dried mushroom in peanut butter soup was also of interest for many.

Also, amaranth seeds milled into cereal or flour, made a very good meal which goes well with amaranth leaves mixed with pumpkin leaves and cassava seeds alongside boneless delicacies such as mopane worms.

I also imagined eating mopane worm sausage or burger, but had to leave this for another day.

This year’s Good Food Festival showed that traditional food has the potential to improve social sustainability to the marginalised communities, judging by the overwhelming numbers of different people who visited the stands and showed their appreciation of traditional delicacies.

Thumbs up to the festival organisers for bringing rural producers to the limelight and appreciating their tireless efforts and contribution to the traditional foods value chain.

Farmers were no doubt motivated to do more this coming season.

With the challenges posed globally by climate change, small grains and traditional crops might enhance food and nutrition security, if production is increased.

No doubt, the festival has a lot to offer in the future and some of us cannot wait for the 11th edition to come next year.

At the festival, guests were entertained by songbirds  Selmor Mtukudzi, Tammy Moyo and Tariro neGitare.

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