The staple food in the south-west of Uganda is matoke, a savoury banana. On the face of it, this sounds quite appetising, but its taste and texture are more like mashed potato without the pleasant flavour – or to be completely honest, without any flavour at all. This tends to be served with posho, made from maize but to my palate merely a white version of matoke. The finishing touch is provided by a bean sauce. And this is our school lunch – EVERY DAY. Carbohydrate heaven (or hell, depending on your point of view), the dream of opponents to the Atkins diet the world over.
In Kanungu, if someone offers you a ‘Rolex’ for the equivalent of about 50p, don’t panic. It’s not a stolen/fake watch, but a street food. It’s a chapati filled with omelette, tomatoes, cabbage and onions, the name being derived from ‘rolled eggs’.
Eating out is an experience. My first taste of this, no pun intended, was with some friends at an Indian restaurant in Kampala. My food was ready first, so I politely sat and waited so everyone could eat together. However, after a while it became evident that my meal would be cold before the other dishes arrived, so I started tucking in. In fact, it turned out that they were being made one at a time!
A few days later, and again with the same group of friends, we ordered lunch in Entebbe – six portions of chicken and chips. After half an hour or so, six plates of chips arrived, then a single roast chicken. The waitress then took the opportunity to tell us that there was no more chicken, information which would have been a lot more useful when we were ordering.
Another time a colleague ordered spaghetti bolognese. Instead of being told there was none left, she was handed a plate of plain spaghetti and a bottle of tomato sauce…