I have tried, I really have, but whichever way you look at it – and I’ve peered at this from the oddest of angles – no two ways about it, Rwanda is a failed culinary state.
What is Rwandan food? Well, beyond maize (harvested too late, always too tough), cassava (…), beans (great, but every day?), cooked bananas (not for me) and chips (sick of the sight of them by now), beyond all of these staples, what do we have? We have the brochette. The brochette, as far as I can tell, is the pinnacle of Rwandan cuisine.
Don’t get me wrong, brochette’s are good. I can quite happily devour a couple of charcoal grilled Tilapia numbers (like those two pictured above from Cercle Sportif de Kigali) and I’m partial to the goaty and beefy versions (even if they are too tough 50% of the time). I’m even happier dabbing them into a saucer full of “volcano in your mouth” pili-pili. The problem is if, like me, you’re looking for a Rwandan culinary experience to remember, you just started and finished it in one sitting (ordinarily with a complimentary 1 hour + wait).
The brochette, as unoriginal and unimaginative as it is, is Rwanda’s sole contribution to the dictionary definition of cuisine. Wikipedia, much like me, struggles to say anything further on the matter. And sadly, unlike Ruairi, I’m not inspired enough to wax poetic for the Rwandan brochette.
Rwanda is reportedly food secure, and no doubt a culinary culture will develop in time. But for now, I need some help. Are you in Rwanda? What am I missing out on? What’s good, when is it good and where is it good? Or is this my lot?
Photo taken from the Kigali Wire Flickr account.