Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Maputo Fish Market (Mozambique Part 3)

(Part 3 of a series. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2)

There really is nothing too special about the Mozambican capital, Maputo. It is a very large, crowded, and incredibly dirty city. That being said, a major highlight of being there for me was the fish market. Other volunteers had told me about the market and it sounded great. There were people selling fresh seafood in the front and then several restaurants behind that. You would buy your fresh seafood and then take it to a restaurant to have them cook it.

The market is bordered by  a low, corrugated metal wall and there was a small doorway leading in. Before I could even get to the door, there were several guys around me telling me to come to their places. "I have the best! Come to my restaurant!" yelled one. Another leaned in close and whispered, "I give you best price. Best price." I waived all of them off and walked in.

There were several booths with all sorts of seafood offerings. One booth had a pile of lobsters, another had massive fish, beside it was one with massive king prawns, and then there was one with buckets full of clams. The clams were intermittently shooting small jets of water out. It was overwhelming to walk do the aisle and have everyone yelling in Portuguese and English to come buy from them.

I walked through the market several times to see what was available and settled on eating shrimp. There were several women selling shrimp and I shopped around, not really wanting to haggle too much. One of the women had king prawns (large shrimp) that were easily 6 inches long. She asked for 800 Metacis ($30) per kilogram so I walked away. Another woman had regular sized shrimp and started off by asking 400 Metacais ($15) per kilogram. After some negotiation and walking away, she lowered the price to 200 Metacais ($7.50) per kilogram, but only if I bought 2 kilograms.

Now with 2 kilograms of shrimp in a plastic bag, walked over to the restaurant side to find someone to cook them for me. Once again, I was quickly approached by several guys and they all had different prices. I found a guy that offered to grill the shrimp for 90 Metacais ($3.30) per kilogram. He laid out a tablecloth and we sat under an umbrella in an outdoor eating area and had a beer.

I started to get worried when 30 minutes and I had not seen the guy. After the run of bad luck on the trip, I began to wonder if the guy had simply taken my shrimp and walked away. We looked around the area but couldn't find him. After 15 more minutes he appeared and assured us the food was coming soon.

He came back carrying a large white platter with the shrimp laid out. They had been grilled and then coated with with butter, lemon, and garlic. It was some of the best shrimp I have ever eaten. They were so good that Tess, who is normally a little squeamish with shrimp, peeled and ate them just as fast as I did.

All figured up, I paid about $21 for 4.4 pounds of cooked shrimp and it was easily the best meal I have had in the last year.