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.