The best moroho

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This is my yard in Southern California, where I sowed moroho in one of my “plots,” as Basotho would call this vegetable garden bed.

Every year at Ngoana Jesu Secondary School, ntate Lemphane had the students of his agriculture class sow their own plot of moroho using seeds of a couple different types of greens (rapa e tala and rapa e putsoa), which I’m pretty sure we call turnip greens and collards in American English. When the students’ moroho got to about the size of mine in the photo above, the women who cooked the school lunches harvested them, boiled them in big black cauldrons, and served them with papa. It was my favorite lunch of the school year.

The moroho was tender, crisp, sweet and spicy — it was everything that moroho could hope to be. It wasn’t mushy like cabbage could be, nor was it bitter like chard (“spinach” Basotho call it). It was the best moroho I ever tasted.

Well, I harvested this stuff in the photo, I did it at just the time I remember ‘me ‘Makopano and the other cooks doing it, and I cooked up some papa to go with it. Brought me back to sitting in that staff room, eating with my right hand off of a tin plate, listening to the tin roof tick as it heated under the afternoon sun, hearing ‘me ‘Masamuel shout at a female student to fetch her a cup of water after she’d eaten.

I can’t say that my moroho tasted quite as good as those school lunches, but for its effect in briefly transporting me back to Ts’oeneng it was magical.

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