Maize is the staple food of the Zulus, and there are approximately 40 different dishes that can be prepared with it. Zulus are passionate carnivores, but the increasing cost of meat has almost forced them to be vegetarians. Cattle are only slaughtered on special occasions such as weddings and coming of age ceremonies, whereas goats, sheep or chicken are slaughtered on other occasions.
The main cultural dishes consist of cooked maize, mielies (maize cobs /corn on the cob), phutu (crumbly maize porridge, usually eaten cold with amasi, but also hot with sugar beans, stew, cabbage etc), amasi (curdled milk which tastes like cottage cheese or plain yoghurt), sweet pumpkin and boiled madumbes ( a type of tuber or yam which has a dark skin and is peeled and tastes like a mix between a potato and sweet potato: the fleshy part is grey-white).
Traditional Zulus eat from wooden bowls and spoons, but nowadays many rural village people eat from enamel plates and use enamel cups, as they are hard wearing. Before eating, hands are washed and after eating the mouth is rinsed out.