Manhattan seen across the Hudson river from New Jersey.New York panorama image

April 2014 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

Mchicha: A couple of stems of this useful vegetable.

A useful vegetable.

20/04/2014 - A Gentler Alternative to Spinach.

In my previous post I showed a picture of Amaranthus growing in our vegetable garden. I thought I'd say a little more about it because I believe that it's something that could easily be grown during the summer months in Europe and most of the USA and Canada, and I think it would be a valuable addition to the cookery repertoire.

Here, Mchicha, as it is called in Kiswahili, is a very popular vegetable for a variety of reasons. For a start it is pretty good to eat, and as you can see from its Wiki profile, it has a rather impressive nutritional properties. It's like spinach in texture, but it does not have that sharp taste reminiscent of scratching a blackboard with your teeth that spinach has. Also you can eat it raw as a salad ingredient, or cooked, and cooking it is a very speedy process. Secondly, it grows wild in many places here, and the wild plants provide good viable seed that will grow into edible plants in just three or four weeks. The seeds themselves can be used rather like sesame seeds.

If the Mchicha is young (recommended), you can eat most of the plant. If it's a bit older, just break off the stiffer bits of the stems as you wash it. You then cook it by 'frying' it in a large pot with just a little vegetable oil in the bottom - get the oil hot then add a finely chopped onion and some crushed garlic, and fry them briefly. Then pack the mchicha into the pot, and stir frequently until it it's cooked to your taste. It shrinks quite a bit during the cooking, so don't be mean with it to start with. If you cook too much it's not a problem, since it survives reheating in the microwave pretty well.

Here in Tanzania, and elsewhere in Africa a good proportion of the population has Ugali with Mchicha as a primary part of the diet, so the nutritional properties of the vegetable are of importance. I like to have it with potatoes in any form, the two things go well together.

You should check with your local seed merchant to see if Amaranthus is to be had. If so, a square meter of your garden, or a few tubs of composted earth would provide you with an excellent addition to your range of vegetables every few weeks.

Green: Invasion of the plants.

Invasion of the plants.

20/04/2014 - Still Alive.

I came to a halt on my software project. No further to go without making a Windows version, and for that I need to buy a new machine and get Windows 7 or 8 from somewhere. I'm procrastinating about that.

The rain here has continued more-or-less unabated, and it could well continue throughout May. As a result, the roads to our house are in a terrible state. There are deep gullies where flowing water has washed the surface away, and mud, mud, mud. The plants love it. We are in danger of being taken over by them growing at an alarming rate.

The plants in the picture are Amaranthus, local name Mchicha, a useful and fast growing green vegetable. I'll have more to say about it later.

Alicia turned 9 months yesterday. She's now cruising everywhere, and has her four front teeth, with barely any indication of teething difficulties. They are very sharp, as you notice if she bites your finger. So now the range of things she can eat is expanded, but so far we have not come across anything she won't eat, which is good. Just going by the babble she makes most of the time, I'm expecting some coherent words to emerge some time soon.

We have guests, a group of civil servants from Kenya who are attending courses at ESAMI. There's another group of them coming next month, though whether we'll get them or not is touch-and-go given the state of the roads.

Squash This List

Check out the BEV retrospective
currently covering 1942 - 1975.

1976 is yet to be started.

What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is the personal blog of a 70 year old Englishman - Steve Teale, started in January 2003. It's currently about life in Arusha (Tanzania), and previously in Bangalore, Manhattan, and the Bronx. It deals with life in general, building a house, food and drink, computer programming, opinion on current affairs, 20th century history, and so on. It may give you some insight into what life is like in 'the third world', or encourage you to visit Tanzania.

I started playing with it in January 2003, when I was living in Manhattan. At the time I felt I was going nowhere, and exposing the details of my life could be no worse than not. Almost immediately I changed partners, and quickly recognized that while I might be prepared to live in a goldfish bowl, other's weren't.

The same year I lost my job - recession, exhausted my NY State unemployment benefits, and got a job in India. Consequently a large proportion of BEV was written in Bangalore. India was OK, but I could not see what I was going to do there when I retired.

This uncertainty was resolved when I met my current partner Adia in 2006. She was a Tanzanian, studying law in India, so I came Tanzania in 2007. Here we have built a house, and made new friends. The rest, you can read on BEV.

At about the same time I had the ridiculous idea of extending BEV backwards to cover the years 1942 to 2002. So far I have got to 1975. For the years 2003 - 2012, choose a year/month from the tool bar, or go to the archive page. For 1942 - 1975, choose a year or go to the retrospective page.

Visiting Tanzania?

Adia's Place now has On-Line Booking. Please feel free to check it out. It may not be 100% yet, but if you get a confirmation email then it's a safe bet that we got your booking.

In the short term we will re-confirm.

If you have done all the usual tourist destinations, then make a leap and discover Africa! Come and visit Arusha, Tanzania.

You might be able to stay at - a great centre for safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro, and of course our own pet volcano, Mount Meru.

Please feel free to contact us. We can tell you about hotels, facilities, prices of basics, etc.

We now have very pleasant bed and breakfast rooms available at $20 per night. The Old Cottage and the South House are also available for longer term visitors.

Studying in Arusha?

Some of the major study centres in Arusha are at Njiro. There, you'll find the Arusha Institute of Accountancy, ESAMI, and TRAPCA.

If you are not happy with the accommodation there, you are only a 5 minute drive from - a secure haven of tranquillity with African food like your mother cooked for you. Price is competitive with the on-campus accommodation.

Just call Adia - 0762 442888 - and she'll come and get you and show you her place. You won't regret it!

This Month's Posts

If there's something particular you'd like to go back to, just click it here

Top 20 BEV Pages.

Exchange Rates.

Moods of Meru.

Mt Meru

The clouds give a good impression of how high it is.

Random BEV Poem.


If you are a Linux user, you might want to try this piece of graphical design software I worked on last year. You can use it to design business cards, labels, logos for your web site, and things of that sort.

You can download it from the BEV COMPO page, where you'll also find the documentation.

About You.

A bit of nonsense. If you've ever wondered what a web site can discover about you when you visit one of their pages with little or no effort, then now you know.

BEV Partners.

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Contact BEV.

If you want to get in touch outside the built-in comment system, email Steve Teale.