Taste of Uganda

One major difference between the United States and Uganda was the cuisine. In the United States, we can chose from a vast array of choices: Mexican, American, Chinese, Italian, Thai, etc. You may not realize how lucky you are until you are given very few choices.

Every night at the place I stayed, the motel provided a large buffet style dinner – almost like a big bbq. Tables sat on their big concrete patio under the stars. The usual set-up included a potato wedge, which in most places in the world are called chips. They never had ketchup, so I had to use a sauce similar to sweet and sour. The spread always provided some meat choices: such as beef, and a few times they served goat – you might guess I would run from that, which I did. About every other night, they served matoke. Matoke, a typical African food, was usually a roasted plantain banana. Each dinner ran from about 200 shillings, which equaled about five dollars.

Each balanced meal of Uganda included beans and rice. Every home or place our group got invited to eat at served very large portions of rice and beans with some other things added. Once I had peas with the mix. I know not all of Africa does this, but it seemed to me that everywhere we ate Ugandan food, they never used any seasoning. The lack of seasoning made me yern for home as well as a big ol’ stick of butter.

One evening our group didn’t want to eat at the motel, so we ordered a pizza from a Domino’s branch. The pizza guy did not make it in 30 minutes or less – of course he kept to the standards of Africa time. Africa time, as I define it is: taking your sweet ass time, no need to hurry – of course I’m an impatient American, everything needs to be rushed. Anyway, our pizza arrives and it’s the most unappealing pizza that I’d ever seen. The pizza had some kind of meat on it – sure couldn’t be pepperoni – and the cheese sat in big chunks of goat cheese. Never again did we order pizza in Uganda.

I must say the fruit of Uganda offered the best that the country’s tastes offered. Actually, the fruit there remains the most amazing food that I had ever consumed. The juicy pineapple, the bananas bursting with flavor, and the delicious jack-fruit. Jack-fruit hangs off tall trees in a very strange shape – almost looking like it came from a Salvador Dali painting. The stickiest food I’d ever held in my life tasted like a mix of cantaloupe, pineapple, and a coconut. Trying to take the fruit apart can be comparative to trying to separate a warm marshmallow. After enjoying Ugandan fruit for two weeks, I remained ruined for any other fruit from anywhere else for the rest of my life. I actually couldn’t bring myself to eat one of our cardboard tasting bananas for six years – I still find it hard to enjoy one knowing that I have eaten the best that the world has to offer.

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