Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Saturday, July 17, 2010

No, we didn't eat any lemurs

The food of Madagascar is set apart from the rest of Africa along with its geography. Heavily influenced by Asia and by what can be grown locally since it is isolated, the food is a nice fusion. In addition, it is probably the cheapest food of any country we have visited. The standard price for street food is 5 cents per item, and the selection is often large. We also had some very good and cheap Chinese food, which is normally expensive in the rest of Africa. Let's see what we ate.

One food picture left from Gabon. Here is the family with whom we stayed eating the tasty chili that we made for them. Some Germans that were staying had spent a ton of time and money tried to make a German dish the night before and everyone hated it. We did much better and everyone really liked it (or at least everyone had seconds and thirds when the night before they took one bite and then went and found other food).
Jumping right in, the single best food in Madagascar, and possibly my favorite street food in the world so far, are deep fried bananas. Batter a banana, throw it in the deep fryer, and it comes out with the banana warm and soft in a crisp shell. Amazing. And at 5 cents each, I ate no less than five of these each day. I don't understand why these aren't sold on every street corner in the world. I think you could sell them for $2 each in the US.
We also found these fried manioc sticks. Sort of like a fried piece of bread. They would have been much better with sugar, but Tara really liked them. Oh, and they were sometimes on sale: two for five cents. I like this picture because Tara apparently has part of one in her mouth while posing with a second...
Samosas are very common in Madagascar. A bit more like the ones we have had in Ethiopian restaurants than Indian restaurants, they are often filled with green onion, meat, potato, and other vegetables and spices. Always served with a spicy sauce. Five cents each. In the US, you couldn't even buy the amount of oil in each of these for five cents.
This might be the weirdest, and one of the more costly, street foods of Madagascar. They take a mix of peanuts and rice, sometimes adding a bit of banana or sugar, and smoke it inside a banana leaf. It sounds amazing, but it turns out to be a bit bland. Very popular as a special treat, since this slice cost almost 50 cents. It really needs about ten times more sugar to be good.
We found little churros in the market! Tara is a churro fanatic, and though this wouldn't make the list of top 50 best churros found in our travels, she was very happy to find one. Cost: five cents each.
The other thing that made Tara really happy is that you can find fresh yogurt on nearly every street corner. It is expensive, at 10 to 20 cents per cup, but she splurged for it... Apparently, it was really good. Sometimes it comes in colorful cups, which is more exciting than this regular one.
I think we mentioned before that many people still quote things in the old currency. When asking about the price of these strawberries (a big bag of them), we understood the price to be $3. This seemed way too high, but the woman quickly understood and told us that was the old currency, so we bought a pint of strawberries that were very good for $0.50. We ate them so fast that we forgot to take a picture until they were almost gone.
Fresh fruit juices on the street are common in Antananarivo and some of the bigger cities. Five cents a glass and you essentially get whatever flavor or two they have that day, though all of them advertise that they have dozens of flavors. Sort of a mix of fruit juice and Kool-Aid, which is just how I like my fruit juice.
Ice cream was surprisingly cheap there, if not the tastiest. They do have a lot of cows, which makes dairy cheaper than many African countries. We bought these to celebrate the airline finding my lost bag.
For breakfast at one of our hotels, Tara had this fruit jam that she loved. Some kind of berries that started with a p. Pockberries come to mind, but I don't actually think they could be called that. So, Tara will have to correct this later and add the name of the berries. They were okay, but not as good as she claims.
These fruits are really good. I asked a few people that spoke English if they had an English name, and the consensus was that they only exist in Madagascar and don't really have an English name that anyone knew. They have big seeds inside, but the flesh taste like a mix of a plum and an apricot. Very sweet. We bought a few big bags of them. Extra fun because they come still attached to the branch.
This is a manioc cake with a stripe of peanut butter in it. Peanut butter (called pistache for unknown reasons in Madagascar) is not uncommon, but costly by Madagascar standards. So, for a five cent cake, you don't get enough peanut butter in the peanut butter to manioc ratio.
While walking through the very dry areas in the middle of the country, our guide showed us these edible berries on these thorny trees. He gave us some and they were very good. I then tried to pick my own, discovering that if you pick them before they are really ripe, they are not only disgusting, but leave a taste in your mouth that doesn't come out for about an hour.
For breakfast one morning while waiting on a bus in a small town, the options were very limited. I bought this cake thing that turned out to be rather terrible. Tasted like a plastic sponge. Tara pointed out that all one had to do is look at it to know that it would taste like that, but I still had to try.
Local restaurants in Madagascar have huge menus, which surprised us at first. Then we realized that they don't start to cook anything until you order, so it often takes well over an hour to get your food and you hear them making everything fresh in the back after you order. This was zebu beef, the local type of cow, which is very tasty.
For one of our nice meals, Tara was going to have lobster. However, they had something else on the menu called cigale, that they told us was a bit like lobster, but they had no idea what the English word was. Tara was adventurous and got it. It looked like a mutant lobster and we later learned that the word means cicada. We still have no idea what it is called in English, but Tara thought it wasn't quite as good as lobster. Let us know if you know what this thing is called.
We bought some fresh baobab honey from a woman on the street. It was in a recycled rum bottle. Hooray for recycling. The honey was very good, but we did get some intestinal critters in Madagascar that may have been from that. Or from the thousand other things that we ate and drank that they advised foreigners not to. Nothing a little cipro couldn't fix.
Noodles on the street and salad on the street are popular. Popular together. For about 15 cents, you could get a nice plate of curry noodles. A few places that we had them were amazing. Some were just mediocre. A great snack during the day, though.
Fried scallion pancakes were also popular. More fried than scallion, they would make for a popular drunk food in most places. However, since everywhere that serves food closes by about 7pm in Madagascar, that isn't the case there.
Here is a selection of five cent items in a rural village. Red bananas lightly fried, deep fried bananas, weird banana bread stuff in a leaf (made with manioc flour and no sugar, so not as good as it sounds).
Look at these mud crabs for sell at the market! Very nice, but I didn't ask how much. Probably five cents.
More five cent items. Some manioc chips (slices of fried manioc with salt), more red bananas, and fish. We never tried the five cent fish, but they are popular. We calculated that you could buy everything on this table for about $2.00.
These look like noodles at first, but are actually more like a curried sourkraut. Not bad, and filling, but not nearly as good as the noodles.
Here is some different banana bread, which is okay, but not really sugary and sometimes has sand in it, and huge chunks of manioc that has been boiled. You can guess the prices.
A plate of hot corn is good on a cold day. Especially for five cents. Actually, this was in a touristy town, so it might have been ten cents.
We went to this local French-owned smoothie place where we had disappointing smoothied (for a whopping dollar each), but had some tasty fries.
While walking around a local market, I bought a popsicle in a bag without knowing the flavor. I literally put my lips on it to rip off the corner and eat it, turned to Tara and told her that I was fairly sure it was beer flavored, which is gross. She then tried it and confirmed not just that it was beer flavored, but that it was actually frozen beer. Like I said, gross. Worst street food of Madagascar.
Tara then found pieces of cheese from a street vendor. She had thought about buying a huge wheel from other vendors, but this one sold her just a bite. She really like it.
Here are the duck fat fries that we got from the French-owned cafe. They were very good and very reasonably priced at 30 cents per bag.
Everywhere had this stuff called Bonbon Anglais Lemonade. For one of our final dinners, we got a bottle with dinner. It turned out to taste like bubble gum. Not good at all, and neither English nor lemonade. Boo to Coke for making such a bad product, though it seemed very popular there.
This is some weird local sausage dish that Tara had. Very good, plus it was at the entrance to a national park with lots of lemurs. They told us it was pork, not lemur, but who really knows. We saw lots of lemurs, but no pigs.
One of the several Chinese meals that we had. Fairly typical Chinese fare, but also typical for Madagascar.
Tara also had to try one of the drinkable yogurts from the store. Yao seemed to be the main brand. She gives it a thumbs down, especially since it was way more expensive than the yogurt for sale everywhere on the street.
Well, that looks like everything for foods of Madagascar. Overall, the food was really good just like the animals, and I tell Tara a month later how much I miss deep fried bananas about every other day.


  1. The berries in that jam were "pock-pock," so you were close! Mmm. And you are wrong, I loved the Yao yogurt! But it was much more expensive than street yogurt.

    Andy does tell me every day that he misses fried bananas.

  2. michelletaylon@gmail.comAugust 4, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Hey guys, its Michelle who you shared the morning game drive with in Chobe. Your blog is awesome. Im excited to read about how you liked Namibia because Bryan and I thought it was amazing. Hope everything is well and it was great to meet you!

  3. The fruit is Loquat. Acording on wikipedia it was brought form China to many places in the world where it could be grown. Here in Portugal, in rural areas, pretty much every house has one of these trees in the front.

    It's a fruit of intense flavour and it's usually consumed directly from the tree. I believe it get's old rather fast once you pick it from the tree - therefore the branches.

    A cool thing about these trees is that they require zero maintenance and are very resistant to all sorts of bugs, fungus etc.

    Not your regular fruit, a fruit with a cool personality and elegance :)

    Anyway, those noodles with the vegetables look yummie.