Monday, March 25, 2013

Rwanda: Food

Let's talk about one of my favorite subjects: food.

The first hotel I stayed at in Kigali had a beautiful open-air dining area on the top floor of the building.  I ate breakfast here several mornings.  I had scrambled eggs with a mushroom sauce, some kind of dried jerky-like meat, and fabulous ciabatta bread toast.

The second hotel I stayed at in Gisenyi also had a beautiful outdoor breakfast area overlooking Lake Kivu.  My favorite food here was the toast with some kind of yummy cheese on it.  That cheese had me wishing for some good red 8:00 in the morning...if that tells you anything.

When we were driving from Kigali to Gisenyi, we stopped at a roadside market and I bought something based on a friend's recommendation.  She said get the fried things that have seasoned meat and onion inside.  I later learned that "the fried things" are called Sabusas and they taste amazing!  They were cheap, too.  I'm not sure what kind of meat was in them, which may sound a little iffy to some people, but trust me they were delicious.  They reminded me of empanadas or samosas.

Each one cost only 200 francs.  In Rwanda, we exchanged $1 for 665 francs.  So that means each of those Sambusas was about 30 cents.  I can't remember the last time I ate so well so cheaply.

One evening in Kigali we ate at a gourmet restaurant called Heaven.  This is a NOT TO MISS place, so next time you find yourself in Kigali, Rwanda be sure to eat here.   The setting is beautiful.  The restaurant feels like a treehouse.  It has wooden floors and is open air amidst the canopy of tree tops.  The food is inventive and so well made.  Every last bite was packed with flavor.  I had the grilled filet of beef with cassava leaf chimichurri, green beans, and brown butter mashed sweet potatoes.  Not only is the restaurant a treat for the senses, it is playing an important role in supporting local farmers and preparing future leaders in hospitality and service by offering vocational training.  Check out their website for more information.

Before you get to thinking that all we did was dine at fancy places, we had our fair share of traditional Rwandan meals, too.  Several times we stopped for lunch at a location where a buffet had been prepared for our group.  I sampled vegetable soup, potatoes cooked many ways, rice and beans, exotic fruits, fish, and more.  Rwandan food is heavy on starches, but I find it tasty.


We also ate at a great Italian restaurant and a burrito place similar to Chipotle called Meza Fresh.  The tourism industry is growing in Rwanda, so there are quite a few dining options for travelers.  And of course, at every meal the drink options consisted of bottled Coke or Fanta.  Fanta everywhere!  I've never seen so much Fanta in my life.

I love trying new foods.  Rwanda has a bit of everything- for those who want to branch out and for those who would prefer to eat something risk-free.  But I did not see a single McDonalds...which was nice!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Those sabusas look just like the Indian samosas we had in S. Africa. They look tasty to me. Glad you enjoyed the cuisine!