As my friends and family know, I love food! I like cooking and baking, sharing a meal with friends, and planning what I will eat and when is a big focus of my day! It is also something I enjoy about travelling. I like learning about what foods are available in different countries and trying local cuisine – whether that’s nutmeg juice, cheese fondue or kangaroo (all stories for another time!).
So needless to say, food has been an important part of adjusting to life in Kampala. Within a few hours of arriving, we were enjoying the fruits that are grown here. Watermelon, pineapple, mango, several types of banana, jackfruit and passionfruit are easily available and much cheaper than in the UK so feature daily chopped up for breakfast or in freshly made juice. We also had a welcome party thrown for us and a returning colleague by our team which gave us our first introduction to a traditional Ugandan meal. Many Ugandans have a big meal at lunchtime. Main take home message is it is carb heavy! It usually includes a combination or all of posho (maize flour cooked in water to make something that is dough-like in consistency), matoke (cooked and mashed plantain), Irish (potatoes!), rice and chapati (flatbread). This is served with a stew which could be chicken, goat or groundnut (peanut), beans, vegetables, or fish. I promised one of the nurses that I would try everything once, which meant a very full plate and belly for the dancing after! I’m not sure my tame British stomach is able to handle such a big meal and then go back to work, but was good to experience.
Our Boda tour was a great opportunity to try some local foods too. We went to the fish market and learnt about how they caught and sold the fish from Lake Victoria. I also really enjoyed trying my first Rolex. This stands for “rolled eggs” and is an omelette sandwiched between two chapattis – a delicious road side snack and always fun to watch it being made!
One of the things that has surprised me here has been the prices of food. The cost of living has increased here recently (as it has globally) but even taking this into account, it is easy to spend a lot of money in Kampala if you aren’t careful. Some things are surprisingly expensive and some are very affordable. Sometimes this is related to if the food is imported but not always. For example, a bag of lentils or noodles would set you back equivalent of £5 but pasta or chickpeas is only £1. Wine is similar prices to the UK but Ugandan gin is very cheap (a gin & tonic last week cost me £1.50!). Some things are too expensive to justify buying here while I don’t have an income, so I’ll be looking forward to eating a lot of cheese and chocolate when I get back home!! Having said that, we are enjoying working out what we can make from the ingredients available. Veggie fajitas with homemade guacamole and stuffed peppers have been a highlight. Our kitchen has is less equipped than mine at home so I’m getting better at guessing weights and volumes, and making breadcrumbs with a grater. It’s also once of the nice things about living with someone – I learn different recipes and ways of cooking things through living with Kath which is great, plus she makes a good coffee!
Another nice thing about being in a capital city is the range of food and drinks available. When I have lived in other African countries, I have been in a rural area when I can’t access a wide range of food and there are fewer places to eat out. We’ve been enjoying exploring cafes and restaurants here, having a pizza out, a treat slice of cake or a cocktail at the end of the week. I’m sure this exploring will continue while I’m here 🙂