Long metal benches, with a rust gleaming crimson red in the setting sun lured me to join a bunch of Malagasies on the Toamasina beach. The whiff of hot charcoal and grilled fish, infused with the salty trail of Toamasina waters appeared an olfactory retreat. I couldn’t wait more to explore.
It was sultry hot and only a beer could do the justice. I was amused to see my beer bottle coming from a sack beneath the murky ocean waters. Inquisitive as I am, I floundered my way to the woman holding the sack over the coastline and insisted for an explanation. Simple as it was, this was done only to keep away the humidity that could make the beer cans warm.
I could see raw fish being threaded onto small skewers. It was a sight to see the fish being gently grilled on an open charcoal grill. Impatiently, I placed an order for two miniature fish kebabs, better known as “Fish Brochettes” in the ancient French territory of Madagascar.
The chargrilled flavour of the fish brochettes had not invaded my senses completely and my greedy eyes touched the leafy green breads finding their way out of the sizzling oil pan! The local name of the savory was ‘Mofo Anana’, ‘mofo’ meaning bread while ‘anana’ means leafy greens. Behind the scenes, there were women preparing a batter of fermented rice flour, finely chopped up green leafy vegetables and tomatoes before it could be deep fried to make it crispy soft! From round, semi-sweet mofo gasy that make up breakfast cuisine, to their coastal version made with coconut oil (mokary), Madagascar has got a ‘mofo’ for any time of the day.
Satiated to the brim, I opened my wallet and was surprised to pay a measly sum for the extravaganza to my belly and my eyes! Malagasy street food makes for a rich culinary experience. A perfect blend of diverse culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe, Malagasy food is a delight for the globetrotter.
As I was heading back to my place, I had an encounter with the Girdled lizard of Madagascar. This reminded me that Madagascar is a place of extremes, amazing wildlife and an amazing cultural amalgamation. The ancient French territory has many mysteries to be unfolded, just like this lizard unfolding its way into the dark. My evening affair with the street food is just a beginning to this escapade!