Siavonga: Maize Beer Challenge
Siavonga: Maize Beer Challenge.
I am very powerful in this wonderful little town of Siavonga. It is a wonderful place to me so far.
My friend left at 09:00. I showered and went to collect some breakfast. The locals could not be friendlier and there are three very beautiful girls here eating out of the palm of my hand. However, I have started something with one of them, so I will stay away from the other two to avoid getting lynched in this town for having far too much fun. But, a waitress in one restaurant and a waitress in another restaurant could not quit grinning at me this morning as I was moving about the town. Both of those gals are super freaking cute. It is tough to somewhat behave in one’s misbehavior…
So, not swimming in the water at Lake Kariba. There are crocodiles in there. It is especially dangerous at night, but locals do swim in the lake during the day. But, get this, the locals actually believe that the crocodiles can pick up the scent of visitors. That is one of the best things I have ever heard!
Zambian languages have a word for “Beaver”. It is “Senzi”. It is how I have been introducing myself to the locals. I do not think they understand what I am saying and assumed it is just a strange foreign language word that sounds a little like their word for beaver.
My lady friend came to meet me in the evening. We went out for a beer and then she took me to a super run down and sort of scary bar called S.S Makumbi Ro – Ilede Bar No.1. It is not a place where you ever want to spend time. It seems to be the end of the line. Even the dogs outside limp. A lot of heads turned when I came in the door. But, we were there because they have maize beer. It cost me $0.40 for a 1L milk-carton shaped container of the mischief and they also charged me $0.10 for a plastic glass to drink it. A rough looking character tapped me on the shoulder as we were walking outside of the bar to sit down.
It was made by the brand Chibuku and the drink is called “Shake Shake”. The maize beer says the ingredients are:
– First grade – white maize meal
– First grade – sorghum grain
– Contains food grade lactic acid as a preservative
– Alc/Vol 6 ± .5% V/V
“Taste the goodness”
The expiration date on the lip of the spout was for tomorrow. So, I guessed we better start drinking if that was the case…
You know that horrific smell of stale urine/ammonia that viciously attacks your sense of smell when you walk into a very dirty toilet somewhere in a rundown area of town? Have you ever wondered what that smell tastes like? Yea, me neither. But, I can tell you from experience how that very smell is what Shake Shake maize beer tastes like. It is horrific.
The taste smelled so much like ammonia that I was pretty sure that humans should not be consuming such a product. However, there were empty and trample flattened containers of maize beer here and there, and no dead bodies, so I figured I would probably get through it.
I have had a version of this drink in Bolivia called ‘”Cheecha”. Even though it is made by old women chewing the maize first to break it down and then spitting it back out to later ferment the drink, and even though that Bolivian drink came in a mop bucket that you dunked a coconut shell in to scoop out a cupful, that product was not nearly as terrible as this factory processed maize beer. The Shake Shake was thick and grainy as we drank it, which was not nearly as much of a problem as the smell and taste. My brain found it difficult to get past the idea of allowing me to consume it and dump some of it into my stomach. It is sort of scary to drink something and not know whether you are going to get drunk or get sick.
My friend and I drank ¾ of the carton. At that time, the bar was closing and the rough characters inside were beginning to come outside. The last thing I needed or wanted was to have to end up in a conversation with locals drunk on Shake Shake. I could not imagine that ending well. I collected the container, my glass, and carried them off in the night towards my guesthouse so that I could get photographs of them in the morning as I was too nervous to take my camera out bring attention to it by using flash in the darkness outside of the bar.
On the walk home, I could feel the Shake Shake in my legs. I left my lady-friend with some of her friends along the way and when I got back to the guesthouse property, there were a couple of local guys in the common area. I showed them the carton of Shake Shake and said, “This stuff is horrible.” By the way they began to laugh it was clear that they did not need me to provide them with that information. They were giggling and repeating my line, “This stuff is horrible,” as I went to my room to retire for the night.