Lilongwe, capital of Malawi, is my last stop on this year’s Baking Blind trip (Hello Lilongwe). I’ll be flying from Melbourne in Australia via a one day stop-over in Perth to cook with another former WRNS colleague, Lynda. Then back in the air to Johannesburg in South Africa before reaching Malawi.
Again, I was in South Africa years ago for yet another World Blind Union conference in Cape Town. I have some wonderful ceramics and glassware from that trip so I am looking forward to exploring the arts and crafts of Malawi.
Visiting another African country is going to be a fantastic new opportunity and experience. I’m being hosted by the Latitude 13 hotel where their head chef is already planning a menu of dishes to teach me. And there will be several chances to cook with local people including those with visual impairments. Perhaps most important of the whole trip will be the group of people with albinism (which can also affect their sight) who face many other challenges too.
My impression is that many people in rural Malawi largely grow their own food. After the last few weeks of more complicated cooking, it will be really good to get back to the basics of fresh home-grown produce. Here, in the UK, we seem to have lost our connection with the soil and are struggling to re-capture the ethos of farm-to-table rather than flying in industrially-produced food. There is much to learn from the approach in Malawi and the recipes will be on www.bakingblind.com
Meanwhile, Peter, who helps with my garden, has been telling me about Lake Malawi: apparently originally sea water and the home to the Malawi cichlids. He’s been keeping tropical fish for years and these are amongst the most collectable. They are “mouth-brooders” so the females, and sometimes the males, gather up the fertilised eggs in their mouths where they develop in a pouch near their “chin”. When the baby fish are ready to hatch, they are blown back in to the water – but they can swim back in to the pouch if a predator is detected. The adult fish can protect perhaps 200 babies in this way.
After Lilongwe, I’ll be back in the UK for Christmas, editing masses of videos with videographer Toby so that we can show you more of our trip. But my time as one of the Holman prize-winners doesn’t end there: there will be more cooking in Hampshire and Europe in the new year which concludes in the autumn with a presentation to the prize organisers, San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. You’ll be able to see all of this on my YouTube channel.