I want to tell you about the local fare, something I am a bit more familiar with. Our main staple in this district is matoke. As in matoke is a way of life and without matoke, life is far from normal. We eat it for lunch and dinner, and if they could figure it out, we would probably eat it for breakfast. A friend and I joked that it would be far from surprising to see it frozen and lovingly called “ice cream”.
You prepare it by first obtaining a large amount of green bananas, which are more like the plantains we know in the United States. These are peeled with a large knife in long strips. Then they are placed in an enclosure of banana leaves over a charcoal cooker. They are steamed for a considerable amount of time. They are then mashed, and served with virtually any type of side item.
There is also another staple in this area called posho. It is essentially white corn meal that is cooked and becomes thick and is cut into large pieces. It is similar to ugali, like that found in Kenya. I am not sure why, but I absolutely love it. I think it reminds me of arepas and of course eating ugali in Kenya. Rice is eaten also, and it usually comes in white or brown. Sweet potatoes and sweet bananas are also cooked and eaten with meals. The sweet potatoes are yellow, but otherwise taste the same as those in the States.
Meat is a rarity, and chicken is a delicacy. Eggs are fairly common, and I usually have one hard-boiled with a piece of bread for breakfast with tea. Chicken is served to guests of honor, which probably explains why I have already eaten it twice. The chicken is a hardy bird here, and the meat reflects that. It is tougher, yet every part of it is savored. My family eats a lot of fish, which they buy off the road. It is served whole and each member pulls a different part of it off. Therefore, there are lots of bones, which makes eating fast a risky endeavor. The fish is also eaten smoked, which I enjoy a bit more as the bones are easier to locate. The taste and texture is also a little more palatable.
Taking tea is also a way of life, no doubt a practice adopted from the British during colonialism. The tea is loose, and hot water is regularly brewed. The tea is usually black, and we have ginger seasonings. When we have milk and I add the tea and the ginger, it tastes like chai!
There are sweet cakes called mandazi (sweet dough fried in oil), chapatti (from Indian influence), and samosas (also from Indian influence). I have not eaten them but there is a cousin to the mandazi, the half cake. The half cake is slightly smaller, made with corn and flour and is crunchier. White bread is very common here, and is usually eaten in large quantities with margarine spread, called Blueband.
This is a glimpse into the food that we eat on a regular basis. There are a lot of other foods we eat, but I hope this helps you understand what I consume on a regular basis.
Clarification from earlier post:
I mentioned eating Maringa powder in Rwanda. This is a super food that was brought in from India. It is very cheap to grow and when the leaves are processed into powder, this can be sprinkled on cooked foods. It is full of vitamins and other minerals. The missionaries we met in Rwanda are attempting to introduce it into the local market to benefit the community.