Sunday, May 8, 2011


Magwinya, meaning Fat Cake, is a Setswana food that is reminiscent of an American donut. Basically, it’s a piece of fried dough about the size of your fist. It has been decided that it may not be good for your waistline but it sure is good for your soul. As a Bots 10 group, we eat a lot of magwinya. There are two very important magwinyas in my life right now and I want to share them with you.

The first is an award-winning magwinya. Yes, I did say award-winning. Last week each of the language groups (we are broken into small sections of trainees for language classes) were taxed with cooking a Setswana dish to be judged by our medical officer and a panel of judges. The aim of the competition was to make sure that we could cook at least six different things on our own using local ingredients when we get to site to ensure we don’t starve (each recipe will go in a cookbook, along with other recipes, to be distributed after swearing-in). My group decided to put an American spin on the traditional magwinya and it paid off! Our variation included sautéing apples and bananas in cinnamon and then stuffing the magwinya with the fruit, frying it as usual, then covering the magwinya in cinnamon and brown sugar. Can you say delicious?! It most certainly was and the judges agreed! After tasting quiche, chili, breakfast sandwiches, madombi le supa (dumplings with vegetables), seswaa (beef) tacos, and our creation, the judges picked us to win! I think this goes to show that what is good for the soul really is what is most important!

The second is a kitten. I know what you’re thinking – Tija, how is a kitten also a donut?! Well, friends, I am going to tell you. The story is this: the Bots 10 group found a sick kitten that had been abandoned by its mom and it looked like it may die within a couple of days. We decided to feed the kitten and give it some love and comfort so that its final few days would be comfortable.  We fed it little pieces of food and sat with it on our laps while it meowed and meowed and meowed uncontrollably. (The poor little thing!) Well, that sad little kitten is doing much better! It has put on weight, takes itself in and out of the training room to say hi to us, and has even taken on the monkeys a few times! This kitten has become sort of a mascot for the Bots 10 group. We named him Magwinya. It started out as a joke because it was anything but a fat cake but the name stuck and the rest is history…

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