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A girl has got to eat

As some of you might know, I like food. I like cooking, eating, hell even doing groceries. More than one person has commented on the fact that I always seem to be eating throughout the entire day. So I feel it as my moral obligation to introduce you to eating – Ugandan style.

The basics

Uganda is lush and green, has regular rainfall and is thus very suitable for growing crops. Driving through the country you will see sugarcane, coffee, tobacco and matooke, lots of matooke. Matooke is starchy banana, also known as cooking banana. The fruit is harvested green and cooked. Ugandans love their matooke and I think one can set up a very profitable business exporting matooke to all Ugandans living abroad.

In general, they really like their starches here. Anything that is not a starch is not considered as food. Cassave, sweet potato, Irish potato (referred to as just ‘Irish’), chapatti, rice, one or preferably all of these form the solid base of a Ugandan meal. No wonder you often see people dozing after lunch, try to digest all that while listening to a presentation on the problems with the sample transport network.

Meat comes in all shapes and forms, chicken, pork, goat, beef, and is fairly widely available. Except for the pigs, all of these animals are usually happily roaming around on the streets. Since about 15% of the population is Muslim, pigs are being kept separately in order not to offend anyone. Luckily, they do serve it, as the grilled pork you can get here is really good and I love going to a pork joint, getting a few skewers with some cassava and kachumbari (chopped tomatoes and onions).

Man, do I love my rolex

My all-time favourite however is the rolex and you can get one for less than €0.50! Unlike the expensive Rolex watches we know in Europe, the Ugandan rolex is an omelette with onion and tomatoes, wrapped in a chapatti (unleavened flatbread of Indian origin). Together with some avocado this makes for a heavenly combination that is perfect for lunch (or after strength training because as our trainer says: rolex is very good, but only two eggs!).

One thing I have difficulty getting used to, is not eating when you are out in the field. It is common to get up in the morning, have some matooke and undefined meat for breakfast, spend hours at a facility without food, only to return to a town that at least serves semi-decent-no-extreme-risk-of-food-poisoning meals around three in the afternoon. My body prefers to be fed every three hours or so, otherwise it will start complaining and I will start shaking. Surprisingly, I have learned that you can condition yourself to make it through the shaking episodes and go on for hours. Although, do not expect any miracles from me, the engine still needs fuel to perform.

Not sure what we’re eating here

Cheese & wine

Despite the local food being really tasty, cravings for European food do occur. Fortunately, Kampala is more than accommodating in this, you can get absolutely everything from Dutch bread to Italian gelato to Greek souvlaki and Ethiopian injera. I once received a sandwich in a very familiar wrapping, though I doubt that you can find proper Dutch cheese here. I guess the two things that I really miss are hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles to be eaten on a sandwich) and good pizza. Somehow, all pizzas in Uganda lack tomato sauce. I do not know if this is a peculiar Dutch preference, but there are plenty tomatoes to be found around here to improve on the situation.

So no need at all to worry about me starving here, our office bbq’s, lunches and cake whenever there is a birthday (with 55 people in the office that is quite often) alone are enough to keep me going. Or the Monday morning meetings at the lab with tea, donuts, bananas and peanuts. Bon appétit!



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