Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ke apiele Leraka (I cooked Leraka)

A few weeks ago after I had just gotten done working-out I had a knock on my door. This is typical being that I live on a family compound, my "family" will usually come and check on me in the evenings to see how I am doing. Theetso was at my door, bearing gifts of food from the "lands".
A single resident of Botswana is called a Motswana and a group of Motswana are called Batswana. The average Motswana might have up to three different "homes"; where they currently stay, their home village - called a motse (moh-tsee)- and a cattle post - called a masimo (mah-see-moh). Each Motswana is entitled to free land from the government. All you have to do is go apply for it from the local land board. So just about everyone here has a masimo and corplands (or at least their family does). Batswana have raised cows for hundreds of years and cows are still a source of wealth today. These cows serve very much the same purpose a savings or retirement account does back in the US. The cows stay out at the masimo and a typical family will also have cropland where they grow a little food.
The plowing season begins sometime in late November or early December, depending on the first rains. (Irrigation is almost unheard of for these small fields). Because of this, many people take off the month of December to go plow, and the crops will be harvested in March and April. Popular crops include, maize(corn), sorghum, beans, squash, sweet reed (sugar cane), and melons. 

Theetso had been at the lands all day helping to harvest some of the food that was ready. They had extra so she wanted to give me some, which was very kind of them.  Some of the things she gave me was half a watermelon, a few ears of meade(mee-de)-very much like corn except a thicker consistancy, and this weird green looking thing that they call a leraka (le-ra-kah). I asked her what it was but she didn't know the English name for it and did really know how to explain what it was to me. Then she proceeded to tell me how to cook it. After she left I decided I would go ahead and try out this leraka thing. I was glad she had told me how to cook it, otherwise I probably wouldn't have know how to tackle it. First I washed it and then cut in in half. From the inside it looked like a type of squash. 

After that I was told to boil it in some water with a little bit of salt until it got soft. Once it was done the skin would peel off easily.  Lastly I was to put it in a bowl with some milk and it was ready to eat. It actually was pretty good tasting. It was soft and when I mashed the milk into it, it was very similar to a mashed potato constancy and tasted a lot like squash. I would definitely eat it again.

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." James Beard

In order to keep this blog interesting please leave COMMENTS :) If there is anything you'd like to know about the culture or my life here let me know and I will write about it. Thanks for reading!


  1. I just appreciate you and you sharing your experience with us all. Thank you!

  2. Thanks so much Jodi! I am glad you are enjoying the posts :)