The food situation

Tuesday evening here in the little box and half the family is singing about Maria. I am leafing through cook books having finally got back to cooking after a very long hiatus. Why the exodus from the kitchen, the self imposed exile? A combination of not having my beloved kitchen utensils, pots and pans, machines and toys with me; ( they are sitting cosily wrapped up in a Montreal warehouse) and hating the grocery stores here.

Shopping here is such a sad experience that it leaves me wanting. On the one hand there are things that were hard to find in Trinidad, such as a few good French cheeses ( although very pricey, think how far they have come), but on the other hand there are fewer gourmet shops with imported goodies than in Trinidad. Compared to Montreal, well, let’s just not go there. So with the optimistic intent of staying positive let us take a look at the grocery store situation here in Kampala. First, I must confess, I thought it would be far worse, and in the first few weeks here I kept finding things that amazed me, simply by their very presence on the shelves.

These are the things I find on a regular basis:

Chickpeas

tins of tomatoes

pasta

wonderful passion fruit, mango, pineapple

South African wine

Macadamia nuts

dried fruit

Quaker oatmeal

pita bread

green beans

eggplant

red peppers

plenty of herbs and spices, many fresh

potatoes

red onions

garlic ( from China!)

local yogurt

butternut squash

lentils

Tilapia and Nile Perch ( these are the only two fish available and they quickly become boring.)

These are things that I hop up and down with glee when I find:

Nutella

Sun-dried Tomatoes

Pesto in a jar

pumpernickel bread

lemonade

imported yogurt

Heinz ketchup

Toblerone

parmesan ( in a solid form)

Broccoli

Boursin

good brie

good bread

baguette

These are the things I long for and can never find:

Refrigerated fresh pesto in a bag

Pine nuts

Flour that is not made from wheat

Philadelphia cream cheese

Challa bread

creme freche

cottage cheese ( to make lasagna)

Tubes of tomato puree

Hagaan Daaz

Chocolate chips

A good variety of decent cheddar and everyday cheese

frozen filo pastry

Rye bread

Chocolate that tastes like I remember it

Well, that is a snippet of my compartmentalized food brain. Moving on.

When it comes time to cook there is no simple opening of a cook book or perusing the nets. Instead it is an exercise in creativity and hope. When the fridge door is opened and the produce tray is pulled out the question is not what shall I run out and buy, but what shall I make with what I have.

I cook a lot of vegetables with chick peas, chili, curry and pasta. Soup is also quite easy, especially if it is butternut squash and lentil, we have made cookies, by making our very own chipped chocolate and now that I have found self raising flour, cake is possible. I have made a yummy sort of fish pie with sour cream and dill and if the potatoes are looking good they can be baked, scooped and mashed with cheese. Eggs here can be a bit anemic but if you find a non rubbery cheese, omelets are always good. The avocados are brilliant, so guacamole is a staple although it is impossible to find real corn chips. Rather than despair the trick is to throw together some imagination with a pinch of salt. We hardly eat meat but when the non vegetarian half of my family does it is normally chicken and it is easy to throw together a good marinade. Ginger and coconut milk are readily available and both can be life savers in the kitchen. And when all else fails and the fridge lends itself more to headaches than inspiration, the are excellent Indian restaurants to be found, one great Thai place and some lovely Pizza.

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1 Comment

Filed under I love food

One response to “The food situation

  1. Clare

    You will soon get used to it – and you learn to be creative and cook everything from scratch which, though time-consuming is rewarding and tastes better!

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