Thursday, 14 May 2009

Food, glorious food

Many of our devoted followers have commented on how skinny we are looking in our photos and video clips. Thank you! Before we left there was concern that we would all balloon in size because we would be sitting in our cars all day. As well as fears amongst our nearest and dearest that our brains would become addled without gainful employment or school to stimulate the grey cells. Well, as you will have seen there has been plenty of food for the mind on this trip. But perhaps we haven't demonstrated quite as clearly the variety of physical fodder we have consumed. Personally speaking, my culinary experiences have been an important aspect of the expedition, one to which my diary bears considerable testimony. Memories of specific places are accompanied by recollections of what we ate, who cooked it and even who washed up!

FOOD 1 is the key food box in Jambanja containing tins, carbs, condiments and the odd packet of popcorn that was evidently purchased in Zimbabwe circa 1999 because it still has a price label saying 10 dollars (zim) on it. Its looking a bit empty now as we are well into southern Africa and never more than a day away from a supermarket or seafood. We have another box, FOOD 2, which by contrast contains the malt whisky, several Rwandan baskets, and an old bottle of Angostura bitters which I fondly and erroneously imagined we would be mixing into our gin and tonics at the end of a hard day's bush bashing. Each car has several other ammo boxes full of utensils, cutlery, saucepans etc. as well as gas stoves.

Most of you will want to know who does most of the cooking. Well some of our resident chefs have made it easy for us both to recall their contribution and at the same time ensure they get off lightly on cooking duty thereafter. After trying out several recipes of his own device which put corned beef centre stage I think Gus realised that it was no coincidence that first Alexander and then he were violently sick a few hours later.

Here is the famous Le Breton chapati making team. This morning Gus decided he would make pancakes but at the sight of the gluey wholemeal gloop he had created, he convinced us that he was planning to make chapatis all along.
Bread is of course a staple, and when we can't buy it en route we have occasionally baked (burnt) our own loaves in the camping bread maker that was purchased from a 4x4 shop in Joburg last year. Of course its all in the kneading.....
What of the other chefs at the Jangano 5 star restaurant? Max and Jake have proven dab hands at fried eggs, popcorn and general tin opening duty. The three laatjies made a memorable and delicious meal in which they re-created kosheri, a favourite Egyptian dish of rice mixed with noodles. They did this by cunningly cooking some rice and yes, wait for it.... mixing it with 3 minute noodles. And Mands takes first prize for doing the most to ensure we don't go to bed feeling hungry every day. My speciality is a buffet supper which involves opening tins of humus, tuna, sweetcorn and anything else suitable, and artfully arranging it with some raw carrot and tomato. Decorated with herbs and spices it looks good and has become a favourite quick fix especially when firewood or gas or imagination are in short supply.

Fortunately sometimes we are staying with friends and enjoying the luxury of a fully equipped kitchen to play with....or else their long-suffering staff may even cook for us. Having breakfast with Kate Phillips in Cairo:

And other times we eat out. One of the cheapest and best meals we had in Egypt was at Mustapha's street cafe near the (rebuilt) library in Alexandria.

And one of our most upmarket meals was at the New Cactus restaurant in Kigali, Rwanda, when Robert treated us to excellent oven-baked pizzas!

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