Saturday, January 18, 2014

What It's Like to Buy Beef in Madagascar

What It's Like to Buy Meat in Madagascar

 The following two pictures capture perfectly the quandary presented to the average American Vazaha* at a grocery story in here (or 'en France' for that matter).

French Beef Cuts

An American Cow
Dream Sheet

To be clear, this post is about what it's like for an American to buy meat in a Malagasy grocery store (meat is also sold in open air shacks and stalls throughout the city).*
Malagasy Meat Stall

Malagasy Street Butcher

There are three main grocery stores in the capital city Tana and they each carry certain products/brands exclusively.  To complete the weekly grocery trip means a trip to all three stores (luckily they are all on the same oft-congested Rue Hydro Carbon).  

Jumbo Score (Madagascar's WalMart--operated under the French-owned Casino Group)

Shop Rite (South African owned): this is the only supermarket that is open on Sunday afternoons until 3PM.  It's at 'the mall'--a three story building with a little food court--to include one ice cream shop that sells $12 pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream in 2-3 flavors.  

Leader Price (operated under the French-owned Casino Group)

We actually didn't eat any beef for the first few weeks after we moved here because it was such a bewildering experience to walk into a grocery store and see nothing that you can recognize.  As you can see from the photos below very little behind the counter resembles anything you'd see in the U.S. 

Luckily, there's a wealth of Americans living in Paris that have blogged about their own (mis) adventures in meat. 

From a post at the excellent blog Posted in Paris:
"Here are a couple of short cut definitions.  If you are looking for a New York strip, choose a faux filet or Coeur d’Aloyau   For rib-eye, try an entrecote.   For sirloin, a rumsteak will generally do the trick.  If you are making beef stew, look for paleron, macreuse, gite, or jumeau.

Of course, the beef you see in these pictures comes from grass-fed Zebu (pronounced zay-boo) vice the corn-fed cows we are used to in the States.  This translates to a LOT less marbling and a slightly gamier taste.  That said, we have found some delicious cuts--and because it's all cut on site you can have the butcher/clerk behind the counter cut your t-bone (ish equivalent: cote a griller) as thick as you would like.  We recently grilled up some nice 2-3 inch cuts that were delicious (and they cost about 75% less than in the states).

The Cote Barbeque is their equivalent of prime rib (in the second picture above) and is tender and very tasty when roasted--plus you can buy the whole 'rack' in that picture for about $12.  

The filet de boeuf is excellent cut up into small chunks or strips, marinated for a few hours in brown sugar, vermouth, garlic, and soy sauce and then wokked quickly over high heat.

We will try to post some pictures of the 'finished products' in the future!

Bon Appetit!

*For my friends in the states, Vazaha (pronounced like Fahza) is what the locals call white foreigners here--not derogatory unless they call you 'Vazaha bey' which means 'way too vazaha'


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