Would you ever, even in your wildest dreams, picture yourself munching a whole lot of mice which in Malawian dialect is known as mbewa? A majority will give you an outright and distasteful ‘NO’. Be as it may, mbewa is a local delicacy in Lilongwe District, Malawi, but it has also been welcomed in other parts of Malawi especially after President Peter Mutharika’s endorsement of the delicacy.
Over the years, the communities in Lilongwe have made the delicacy a top choice over other meat option such as mutton or beef. They say that mbewa is rich in proteins and vitamins, how true this is; only scientist can ascertain or disprove.
Nonetheless, there are different species of mbewa, the most common being ‘akapuku’. There is the Kapewa species which is oily and eaten with a lot of ease while the Madondwe species (are large squirrels) have a very sweet flavour and are lean.
Once the mbewa is hunted, its intestines are removed and soaked in salt inside a pot. It is then roasted over the fire with its fur (not for so long), and then impaled on a stick and garnished with salt and cayenne pepper before taking them off to the market. Others dry them as customers prefer dried mbewa.
The peak season for hunting mbewa is usually between April and August which is the harvest season. Children too, are involved in the hunting of the mice by turning away the cornhusks and hitting the mice underneath with sticks.
Other methods used for hunting the larger species involve use of smoke which is blow to their hideout holes and they come out dizzy before they are killed and cooked. Once the harvest season is on, the prices are relatively low at just $0.14 but once the season is over, it hikes to $0.28 per stick of mbewa.
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