I’ve had some requests to write a bit about African food. Well, I can’t say much about “African” food in general, as I know that Ethiopian food is quite different from Moroccan food and it seems the case all over. But, in Sub Saharan Africa, most people have some sort of staple crop which is made into a sort of doughish mush. In some places, like Congo and Nigeria, that mush is on a communal plate and it’s then dipped into a sauce which has some meat and vegetables in it. In Congo it’s called FuFu and it’s either made from maize (corn meal) or cassava root. In other African countries, they don’t put anything on their staple food – Cait has told me stories of Peace Corps volunteers in South Africa offending their host families by putting sauce or salt or whatever on their Pap (I believe that’s what it’s called there).
Meat is a regular part of Congolese food, usually in the form of beef or chicken. We usually pay for the imported beef because the local stuff is incredibly tough, as is the chicken. They also have pork and goat, though slaughtering a goat or pig seems more for special occasions.
Another important part of the diet is cassava and amaranth leaves. Both are leafy vegetables, but they’re quite different in texture. Amaranth is basically a spinach-like plant that can be used both cooked and raw, though it seems to be usually cooked into its own sort of green sauce. Cassava leaf dishes have more of a bitter flavor, but I found it to be quite delicious.
Here’s a photo of today’s lunch: Fufu with a Meat Sauce and a side of amaranth and vegetables.
I’ve also had a variety of grilled meats here, and some fish, which is obviously an important source of protein here on the Congo River. Everyone here hopes to catch a Goliath Tiger Fish in order to feed their family for months or make a ton selling it to foreigners.
How about Dining out in Kisangani?
Well, you can go to Palm Beach, which is a ‘hotel’ that has a swimming pool. There I had a Steak with some cheese and an egg on it, along with fries for $20. There is a ‘Greek’ place, which doesn’t really have Greek food yet, but the owner has recently moved back here and he’s determined to start serving actual Greek food – Around $20 per plate. We went to the Riviera where I had a few beef kebabs and rice for, what do you know, about $20.
Because everything needs to be imported, the few ‘nice’ restaurants in town all charge a lot of money because they’re the only places foreigners can really go. The next level of place is basically street food and really shady local restaurants – though I guess there are a few that are alright but I have yet to visit them.
One place in town serves pizza, and they even have boxes now, but it’s not good at all. The pizza we’ve been able to make at home is far superior.