Let me continue sharing my experience with Rwandan food to build upon my last post about breakfast.
Bananas are a staple in Rwanda and there is another type, shown here, that is always cooked before eating. It is the size of most bananas found in the USA but it is always green.These are treated like potatoes and boiled or fried.In the picture we are making ‘chips’ and frying them.
Final product! You can see the banana chips in this picture. There is also rice, a staple, as well as a flavorful sauce made with eggplant, carrots and cabbage. Every meal is very starchy with at least two different forms. Here it is ‘only’ the banana chips and rice, but they also commonly have [mushy, overcooked] spaghetti or cassava bread, which I will explain later. It is interesting to me, because in Ghana there was a similar starchy consistency to the meals, but people tended to eat one large meal only. Here people pile their plates very full for all meals.
Another example of a typical meal. The sauce is made with eggplant, carrots, and peppers. Avocado is on the side along with chips made from potatoes, so your run of the mill steak fries. They are just as likely to boil the potatoes; it is only by coincidence that both plates have fried foods.
Here is dodo, which we went out to garden next to the house to cut and then brought it to use for a sauce. It is great to eat green vegetables as seems to be a bit uncommon. The leaf is consumed and is very flavorful, a bit bitter, similar to spinach, but with an herby flavor. For this meal it was boiled and some groundnut (peanut) flour was added to the sauce.
We also had cassava bread to eat with the sauce. Cassava flour is mixed with water and boiled together (all unmeasured, of course). It is then stirred and stirred until it becomes the consistency of spongy dough. It is difficult to stir so it is held between the feet to keep it still and two hands use the spoon. I can think of nothing in the US that is eaten with this texture and I believe it is an acquired taste, but I had similar food often enough in Ghana that I really love it. People traditionally eat with their hands to scoop up sauce rather than using utensils.
The bread on the upper left is cassava bread, the sauce over the rice in the upper right are made with beans and cabbage. Beans are very common here and eaten with almost every meal. Rwandans do not approve of my portion size. They are constantly encouraging me to get up and have more, asking if I do not like the food or asking if I wish to lose weight. But the truth is, after a meal I am stuffed. I don’t know how they do it!
Meat is rarely eaten in Rwanda. It is more commonly consumed to entertain guests, so we had it often with the Benebikira sisters, but otherwise not more than once a week. Common meats are goat, chicken, and beef. We had fish once. I believe goat is most commonly eaten of all meat.
And lastly is akabanga! This little gem is Rwandan hot sauce. It is sold in containers about two inches tall and is dispensed with a dropper. That’s right, a dropper, because so little is needed before your mouth is on fire. In fact, we are advised told to wash hands after handling it to prevent from us burning our eyes if we touch them after using the dropper.