Rebecca Kabaya Lifestyle Writer
With many a people across the globe resorting to traditional food stuffs to supplement their diets, conventional resorts and restaurants have also taken the same route when serving dishes to their guests.
The phenomenon, which started with a few traditional food outlets serving nuts as starters, has also seen renowned restaurants and hotels preferring wild fruits as starters with tsubvu, mauyu, matohwe, masawu, hute, nhunguru and nyii topping the list of wild fruits being served in these affluent food outlets.
Although the wild fruits are regarded as nutritious, they are now being used by the restaurants to lure clients with a penchant for traditional meals to their outlets.
The trend has also seen some outlets serving drinks made from the wild fruits with conventional dishes.
In Harare, some of the restaurants where the high heeled spend their lunches, is now the order of the day, gaining popularity with each passing day.
Meikles Hotel is one notable guesthouse that is offering the wild fruits as starters on their dishes with nyii and tsubvu on the list of their menu.
It also serves a drinks made from the baobab fruit — mauyu.
Suppliers of the wild fruits are now making a killing from the restaurants, which are mostly found in the affluent suburbs of the capital.
Chiedza Mabhuru, one of the vendors at Simon Muzenda Street, said mauyu drink was on demand with people buying the fruits increasing with each passing day.
“I prepare and brand the drink by myself at home,” she said.
Ms Mabhuru said she started selling the wild fruits on Harare’s streets some two years ago.
“l am now earning a living from selling wild fruits since I am a single mother of one. I started this business two years ago and ever since then l had been able to take care of my child. I also make ice-lollies from mauyu and l sell these in my neighbourhood in Budiriro. Each ice-lolly will be going for 50cents,” said Mabhuru.
Ms Mabhuru said she sell at least 50 bottles per day.
“I always make sure l hoard a lot of them in Gokwe where they are very cheap ans sometimes we get them for free. Mauyu are seasonal therefore l always stork enough to take me through the whole year and avoid disappointing my customers,” she said.
Traditionally, baobab leaves, bark, and seeds have been used to treat “almost any disease,” including malaria, tuberculosis, fever, microbial infections, diarrhoea, anaemia, toothache, and dysentery.
Wild fruits are eaten worldwide and often used preservatives, juices or wine.
Locally, we have various types of wild fruits including tsubvu, mauyu, matohwe, masawu, hute, nhunguru and nyii among others and usually they are found in the forest in rural areas.
Some of the wild fruits are seasonally found giving an opportunity for some enterprising people to commercialise them.
Unlike the rural areas where people are free to go and pick them from the forests, in the cities they are scarce
It has resulted in vendors selling them at their stalls dotted at almost every city street’s corner.
In Harare’s CBD, they are often sold for RTGS1 to RTGS2 per cup.
Most of the wild fruits do not demand much labour as they will be readily available and ready to be serve.
Besides being served in restaurants as starters some of these wild fruits like masawu and mawuyu are now being used to manufacture beverages.
The masau or ziziphus (scientific name) are found in Southern Africa and throughout Zimbabwe.
The fruits are rich in vitamin C and can be made into fruit powder, fruit slices, juice and jam for the local market.
Masau in Zimbabwe are now used to make a traditional distilled alcoholic brew known in vernacular as “kachasu”.
It is common in areas like Mt Darwin and is regarded as one of the top three strongest traditional brews in the country.
The alcohol is also consumed in countries like Zambia, DR Congo and Malawi.
Musau is a hardy tree that copes with extreme temperatures and thrives under rather dry conditions.
It is found throughout Zimbabwe but only bears fruits in the lower lying areas.
The tree is usually found in the lower Zambezi valley, where it is an important supplement to rural incomes and nutritional status.
Its fruits are collected during the dry season from May to August.
Baobab fruits or mauyu are now used to make juice added with sugar and milk.
Although the drink is not being sold in supermarkets, it is very common in the city’s streets.
It is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, carbohydrates, and phosphorus.
The fruit is found inside hard pods that hang upside down from the tree with a citrus flavour.
It is taken from its natural environment and dried naturally.
The seeds are removed and ground into a powder that can be added to food products.
The mauyu fruit and powder are rich in vitamin C and believed to have antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Its powder and other products from the fruits can be incorporated into smoothies and salads.
The leaves and fruit pulp have been used to reduce fever and stimulate the immune system.
Health benefits of wild fruits includes improving digestive health, supporting the immune system and general hydration and skin health.
However, there is very little research on the consumption and effects of the wild fruits as they sh
ould be taken in reasonable amounts.