Let’s talk food for a moment. Food is life and I like it that way. Seth (my hunk of a husband) can eat, I don’t mean that he likes food, I mean that he can and will take any and every chance possible to eat. In my book this is most definitely not a negative attribute, it’s more like an adventure and living overseas pretty much guarantees adventure.
If you read my last post you know that I live in Uganda. I wasn’t born here but grew up for 24 years in American in the state of Washington. You’ve probably guessed it already but there are some huge food differences between those two places. Washington is known for delicious apples but also grows some of the most delicious strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Have I mentioned yet that Washington shares a direct border with Oregon, which is home to the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the city of Portland (only 20 short minutes away from my childhood home). I think it’s pretty obvious if you know anything about the food scene in Portland that as I grew up, there was never a shortage of delicious local and foreign delicacies. (Side note: both my mom and older sister are both self employed in their own food endeavors. If you’re ever in Vancouver, WA make sure you check out Sugar and Salt (a bakery and cafe with the most delicious biscuits and gravy) as well as Hello Waffle (a delicious waffle cart) and don’t forget to tell them that I love them!) Having grown up with a mom that was always whipping up scrumptious home cooked meals I grew accustomed to lasagna, breakfast for dinner, enchiladas and many more wonderful things. Basically I thought that everyone had a mom that could cook like mine.
I was wrong. Moms in Uganda don’t cook enchiladas and blueberry waffles for dinner. Most moms in this fairly small east african country certainly are excellent cooks but the dinner menu generally looks a bit different. Homemade pizza is traded for rice and beans or matoke (a variety of savory plantains often steamed in banana leaves and mashed) and benyebwa (ground up g-nuts (almost like peanuts) boiled in water with salt). There are many differences between food in Uganda and food in Washington. Some good, some bad. It all depends on if your glass is half full or half empty.
Food I love in Uganda:
- MANGOS. I love mangos and I’m not talking dried mangos or pre-peeled and cut Costco mangos. Uganda has the most juicy, sweet, right off the tree mangos. If you don’t have your own tree to pick from you can purchase one of these large fruits of perfection for .15 to .30 cents depending on your bargaining skills and the season.
- PORK. Really you haven’t lived if you’ve never eaten the pork cooked by Auntie Monica (the cook at church where Seth and I practically live at). No chemicals…just a cute little piglet that turned into a big pig that got in my belly. Auntie Mon basically fries the meat in it’s own fat and fries it together with salt, onions and tomatoes. Perfection.
- CHAPATIS. The best street food. Basically a glorified tortilla fried up with a bit of oil and a small amount of carrots and onions shredded into the dough before it’s cooked. Being street food it’s always a surprise on how your stomach feels after eating one of these rolled up with fried eggs (omelet style) with some fresh cut tomatoes. The flavor and goodness is well worth the risk of a 1 in 10 (ok…maybe 1 in 5) chance for an upset stomach. I eat one at least once or twice in a week.
Food I love in Washington/America:
- CHEESE. Tillamook is pretty much the best, but really any will do (except american cheese….I just can’t). There’s nothing you can;t do with some good cheese. Mac’n’cheese or any baked pasta covered in mozzarella, grilled cheese, cheese fondue, quesadillas, you name it…options are endless.
- BERRIES. I live for berries. Well, maybe not “live for” but they are delicious. My mom is not only a fantastic cook but also an avid gardener. I hated this until about a year ago when I started craving her homegrown blueberries that I used to eat by the bowlful.
- PIZZA. It’s not only Oregon and Washington that have a million and one pizza shops with the most mouth watering pizza you have ever eaten, but there are a number of particularly wonderful places there. I worked at Twilight Pizza Bistro for four and half years while in and after college…some of the best food years of my life (please check this place out when you are in Camas, WA!) Not only wonderful hand tossed pizza but also parmesan truffle-oil fries, gourmet hamburgers and a mean clam chowder when it’s on special.
- MOIST CAKE. Most cake in Uganda isn’t exactly soft and moist, and that’s ok becasue people here like it a bit dry and dense. I however and mot one of those people. When I was taught by my mom how to make cake we made delicious moist (fluffy or dense) cake.
Because I love food and my family that lives in Washington, if I could have a superpower I would definitely choose the ability to teleport myself. I could hit two birds with one stone. Visiting my family or mother-in-law all while eating my childhood favorite foods sounds like a slam-dunk win to me. What food do you love most from your hometown?
ps. I am writing this while sitting on the first leg of a 40 hour trip from Uganda to American…obviously dreaming of the food that I’m going to consume shortly. Don’t be surprised if in a few weeks I’m writing about the diet and exercise plan I’m on due to the weight I’m about to gain while eating my heart out on this quick 2 week visit to the states.
pps. Currently in the JFK airport…..with half a philly cheesesteak sandwich and pizza in my belly. YUM.