Tribal Diets-Maasai Palettes
Tribal Diets- Traditional Massi Food
Italians have pasta, Russians have borscht, and Americans have cheeseburgers and cherry pie; traditional foods can be found in every culture, and the 120+ ethnic and tribal groups living in Tanzania are no exception.To a westerner, though, traditional eating for the Maasai may seem distinctly unorthodox. That’s because a traditional Maasai diet not only includes, but primarily relies upon, both cow’s milk and cow’s blood.
In Maasai culture, cattle are highly valued. The size of your herd indicates your status in the community, and accumulating animals—rather than consuming them—is common practice. That means that milk plays a huge role in a traditional Maasai diet. Drunk raw (or soured), drunk in tea, or turned into butter (which is especially important as a food for infants), milk is a part of almost every meal for Maasai herders.
Blood is obtained by nicking the jugular artery of a cow precisely, allowing for blood-letting that doesn’t kill the animal. Mixed blood and milk is used as a ritual drink in special celebrations, or given to the sick.
Of course blood and milk aren’t the only things Maasai eat; the diet has always been supplemented with tubers, honey, and foraged plants that are most often used in soups and stews. More recently, Maasai have supplemented their diet with grains and maize-meal (and of course many modern Maasai live an urban lifestyle, with the more varied diet that entails). They still play an important role in many Maasai meals, however; for example, ugali (a thick maize-based porridge that serves as a staple food throughout Tanzania) is generally served with milk in Maasai households.
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