Wednesday, October 26, 2005

African Cuisine.

For some reason 'Africa' and 'cuisine' just don't sound right together. Perhaps this is because the food found there is as diverse as the continent itself. That being said, Sarah had an excellent question in a previous comment - what is the food like in Africa? Granted, i traveled in just two countries but i was able to sample some local fare along the way. The truth is most of the time i was able to eat like a king in between my Kilimanjaro and safari adventures, eating out for just a few bucks each day.

Being the international city that it is, Cape Town has a fair diversity of influences when it comes to food. While there i rediscovered my beloved Nando's - a Portuguese style flame-grill restaurant chain that began in South Africa and i first tried in Australia.. go figure. They are famous for their tangy but spicy Peri-Peri sauces, which can now be found in American supermarkets as the company prepares to launch its restaurants Stateside. I met the franchise owner who was super nice and we talked about the company a bit. I told her how much i looked forward to seeing Nando's in the States, which she of course thought was great to hear.

The beautiful Greater Kudu.

Having tried kangaroo in Australia, i was somewhat eager to sample some exotic game while in Africa. For some reason, wildebeest just sounds like it would be awesome to try. But on my way to Africa i read an article in National Geographic discussing how people's taste for game meats (especially rare or endangered) has only further encouraged the poaching of these great animals. Thus, i decided to pass on the "game restaurants" that i saw in Cape Town. However, I did sample several kinds of jerky, but only because it was given to me. I tried ostrich, eland, and kudu.. all of which were quite tasty and not too dissimilar to beef jerky.

I spent most of my time in Tanzania, where i was able to try several new things. The staple of the Tanzanian diet is ugali, which is mashed maize or cassava flour mixed with a little water to produce essentially a tasteless white dough. From here, Tanzanians usually add a sauce containing vegetables and if you can afford it, some meat as well. When i asked to try ugali, my safari cook was excited that i was interested, and i must say it was quite good. Of course, without the sauce it would be tasteless dough, but hey together the two make quite a meal!

chicken mambo yote.. delicious!

Another dish that was highly recommended to me by locals was called mambo yote. In this case the dish was composed of chicken sautéed with onions, green peppers, and tomatoes served with cabbage slaw on a hot plate.. similar to fajitas but with rice instead of tortillas. The small cup held a spicy sweet sauce that i poured over the rice and chicken.. it was great!

And last but not least, i had the best Indian food of my life during my trip. It has been said that the best Indian food outside of India can be found in Africa, and i believe it! A sizeable Indian population resides in many African countries. Most of the Indians come to start their own small businesses, and with them they bring some fantastic recipes. I loved it!
Nothing like a safari birthday cake, woo-ee!

While on safari i celebrated my 27th birthday. I asked my guide how Tanzanians celebrate birthdays and he replied, "We usually make a cake". Wait.. that sure sounds familiar. We were camping in the bush and the only thing to cook over were hot coals, but somehow my cook was able to bake me a birthday cake.. i have no idea how he did it. I was very surprised, but felt very lucky and was sure to cut pieces for all of my new friends. Not a bad place for a birthday!

10 Comments:

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Mom said...

WOW - a far cry from what you used to eat as a kid, huh? Pretty amazing. Welcome home!

 
At 6:09 AM, Blogger Idgie @ the "Dew" said...

Found your site by a click from you on my site.

I love this! I can now travel to Africa via you!

I've blogrolled this immediately and will follow your adventures. Can't wait to see what you eat next.

:)

 
At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Rhonda said...

I still can't believe this is the same person that almost threw up at the table when he tried a crab wonton! ;)

 
At 3:20 PM, Blogger Idgie @ the "Dew" said...

http://friedgreentomatoes.blogspot.com/2005/10/great-african-adventure.html

Gave you a little boost for readership!

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger Mike said...

In reply to what Mom said...

If the food you ate in A-to-the-frica was deep fired, it would be exactly like what we ate growing up.

But, of course without that extra special ingredient I like to call "love."

 
At 8:26 PM, Blogger Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said...

This is great! I'll be following, too. I'm here via Idgie's link.

 
At 10:21 PM, Blogger Sarah Loukota said...

Thanks for the food post! I would be hesitant about eating tasteless white dough in bulk though. :)

I am amazed that you were able to receive a cake on your birthday - over a campfire - that's talent!
Welcome back to America!

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger DCBrownie said...

Wow! I am impressed that your cook baked you a birthday cake. How sweet (pun intended)!

Nice shot of you and the cake. :-)

 
At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Jen Bouzigard said...

Nando's?!!!
I first discovered it in London-there are several restaurants there. I also found them in Australia. It was wonderful...BTW, I found your blog through my friend Laurie.

 
At 8:00 AM, Anonymous African safari said...

Anybody on an African safari to East Africa especially Kenya and Tanzania should try swahili cuisine. It's just great!

 

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