Albert Maz

'If I've got a chance - that is if my wife and six children are not home - I cook for myself. But for me cooking is a luxury because in the Zulu culture the man is forbidden to cook at home unless it is for a feast.

For breakfast I eat Incwancwa, a sour porridge made of fermented mealie meal (ground maise) with lemon added at the last minute. Lunch or dinner is often Imfino Imifhepo, a popular South African mixed vegetable stew. We grow all our vegetables on our farm near Durban. I'll usually boil up mealie meal with water to make Uputhu and eat it with the stew. The dish is flavoured with ginger and is very delicious. Pure traditional Zulu cooking doesn't use any spices but, because of the Indian influence in South Africa, some people now add them. I like to keep my food quite traditional, the only time that I use spices is when I make a braai (barbecue), when I add piri piri and curry powder to fresh fish or mutton.

I sing all the time, even when I'm not performing, so I need ginger for my voice. Honey also helps my throat so I always put a spoonful in my herbal tea instead of sugar. I drink water and, whenever I can get hold of it, fresh orange juice. When we are at home having a party or a feast I like to make Zulu beer from fermented mealie meal. For a snack when it's hot I love Amasi mealie meal eaten with sour milk. It's my absolute favourite food, I can eat it all the time, morning, day and all evening.

If I'm on tour I can eat most things that are put in front of me but I try to avoid fatty food, not for diet reasons, I just don't like the taste. I tried to eat fish and chips a few times and I wouldn't have it again. At home we cook with sheep or beef fat, the taste of oil doesn't agree with me. I particularly like Chinese food but if I feel like spoiling myself I get sushi. I'm the only one of Ladysmith that can eat it. But I only ever eat in restaurants when I am away from South Africa, when I'm at home I never eat out because my wife's cooking is so good.'
Interview by Chloe Diski

Fresh Fish
Some species of fish are rich in what are known as omega-3 fatty acids that several studies suggest reduce the risk of heart disease. Also, fish oils might help stave off other conditions such as diabetes and some forms of cancer. The evidence suggests that, from a health perspective, fish is very fine catch.

Zulu Beer
There is evidence that some alcohol can reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also true that alcohol can increase the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, liver disease and cancer. A recent study found that the optimum intake might be a lot lower than we generally believe, so Albert's intake should be limited to an occasional glass of home-brew.

Fresh Orange Juice
Although orange juice has a reputation for being a healthy and nutritious drink, I reckon it comes a poor second to the whole fruit. When an orange is juiced, fibre and other health-giving elements are left behind. Plus, cartoned fruit juices are pasteurised prior to packaging which likely kills off more of the already depleted nutrients that remain. Freshly squeezed orange juice is a better option.

Some forms of honey have antiseptic properties, and is popular as a natural first aid treatment for colds and sore throats for this reason. Because honey is essentially made of sugar and very little else, it is probably not a thing to be having in quantity in the diet. However, occasional dollops of this sit quite comfortably in what is a very decent diet.

Lemon has a long history of use as a homespun remedy for sore throats. Two of its chief ingredients are vitamin C and compounds known as bioflavonoids, both of which seem to have the ability to help fight off infections and maintain the health of the membranes that line the throat. Another good choice for songster Albert, I think.

Curry powder
Curry powder is made of a blend of spices, some of which are known to wield disease-protective properties in the body. Cumin, for instance, contains a couple of chemicals known as carevol and limolene believed to have anti-cancer properties. Turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin that has anti-inflammatory and liver-supporting effects in the body. In addition to adding flavour and interest to Albert's favourite dishes, curry powder might also help keep him free of unwanted ailments too.

Mealie meal
This is essentially ground-up corn. Corn does provide the body with a few useful nutrients. On the down side, corn releases sugar quickly into the bloodstream. Potential problems include rising cholesterol levels and an increased risk of diabetes. My suggestion would be to cut back a bit.

A diet rich in fish is believed to offer significant health benefits (see my comments about fresh fish), and sushi obviously scores highly here. The other major ingredient in sushi - white rice - I'm less enthusiastic about. This is generally low in fibre and offers relatively little in the way of nutritional value. However I still think sushi rates as pretty healthy fare.

Sour milk
Cows' milk is not designed for us, but for baby cows. Just one potential hazard in milk is the sugar it contains known as lactose. Most of the world's population lack the enzyme necessary to digest lactose in the gut. I like Albert's diet, but believe that losing milk would only serve to make it better.

Ginger is known to have an anti-inflammatory action in the body. This may well soothe Albert's well-used vocal cords. It is believed to simulate the circulation, boost digestion and reduce risk of heart disease. The presence of this peppery spice in his diet should bring health-boosting effects in the long term.

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