Monday, 17 October 2011

Sharing food, sharing lives...a typical meal in Rwanda

It is difficult to think of a social gathering in Rwanda that does not involve the ubiquitous brochettes (goat kebabs) and chips.  In fact in most local bars and restaurants brochettes and chips are the only things on offer. I must admit I’d never eaten goat before coming to Rwanda, but its actually quite good once you get used to it. Its like beef but a bit chewier, especially when it has been on the grill for a fair while. Now trying to eat it in a ladylike fashion is not easy. The first time I tried to eat one I nearly impaled myself on the stick it came on because I tried to pull each piece of meat off the top of the stick. Thats not the way to go. When observing my Rwandan colleagues I noticed that you have to nibble at it from the side. But now, many brochettes later, I’m something of an expert. In fact I can now hold down a conversation and chew on a brochette.

But the thing I love about meals of brochettes and chips is that they come on big communal plates put in middle of the table to share. The communal nature of meals here makes for quite lively conversations as you wait for 1 to 2 hours for the much desired brochettes to come, and then have a debate over who should get the last brochette or the last chip. In fact I think that brochettes and chips bring people together. Whenever you go into a bar you see big groups of people sat around tables, either waiting for or devouring plates of brochettes, and peels of laughter echoing off of the brick walls. There is no feeling that 17 years ago this was a country where divisions ran so deep that a genocide erupted killing millions of people.

 As I sit in a Rwandan bar surrounded by friends or colleagues, engaged in jovial conversation waiting for our brochettes to come, I am reminded of the importance of eating together with friends and family. It is a time for sharing stories, news and jokes, and talking about the day, wherever in the world you are, and remembering that you are all in this life together, for better or for worse. So next time I am waiting for what feels like an eternity for those brochettes and chips to come I’ll remember that the fun is those conversations huddled around a small table in a dimly lit bar, sharing the stories of the day.

This blog post was for blog action day on world food day, and the topic, unsurprisingly, was food.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Rwanda? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Rwanda in order to complete my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and a original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28902 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog, where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely