Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Food We Eat

One of the many blessings of being under the auspices of the church when traveling are the Sunday dinner invitations. Every church that we have attended to date has ensured that we are well fed and watered during the day. This is greatly appreciated since our Sunday activities last from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm!

In this way, we have been introduced to many excellent Ugandan dishes. Since Uganda is so close to the equator, they have four 'seasons' - two dry and two rainy seasons. (Although we are in the dry season now and still have rain many days). This allows residents in Bushenyi to have up to 3 growing seasons/year and a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The other benefit to the climate is that most of the food available here is grown locally. This results in relatively inexpensive food for Ugandans, as the only costs for locally grown food are the input costs and labour. Since labour costs are relative to the local wages, food is affordable for most people. A pineapple here costs 35 cents, so we've been enjoying them here. Meat can be had for about $1.50/lb, and fresh milk is also widely available (although it is unpasteurized and therefore boiled before being served with tea). Imported items cost significantly more a small box of cereal is $6.

So far, we have been introduced to:

Matooke (small starchy bananas similar to plantains that are served either boiled and mashed like potatoes or fried),

Karo (a doughy starch made from millet flour that we use to pick up broth and other foods on your plate),

Dodo (leafy greens with a similar taste to bitter spinach, served cooked with onions),

Groundnuts (similar to peanuts, but smaller and less oily, usually cooked into a sauce with onions and tomatoes and served on the side or with the meat),

And I have yet to distinguish between the yams and sweet potatoes and other root vegetables that are here in abundance.

There are also many other familiar foods - potatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, green peppers, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, beef, chicken, goat, pineapples, watermelons, mangoes, pasta, bread, rice and local honey. So we have been well fed during our stay so far. Jeff even found Gouda and Cheddar locally produced in Mbarara (a town about an hour away), so he is as happy as a mouse after we visit there!

I am experimenting with food here - I am trying to learn how to make chapattis/tortillas. Lillian (the mother's union worker here) has promised to show me, as all my attempts seem to be hard and crumbly. The most recent experiment was passable, and made for decent fajitas for supper.


Justin said...

I'm glad I had dinner before I read that. Sounds exciting and tasty.

Tumwijuke Mutambuka said...

I have a couple of ideas on how you can make the most of Uganda's diet -

Also, the diet consists of so much more than starch as I am learning.

- Ugandan Insomniac