Monday, July 17, 2006

Congolese Cuisine

Well, of course one of the most interesting things about travel is the food. Here's a blog entry with photos all dedicated to my eating experiences in Northern Congo. My friends know it's one of my favorite subjects :o) I have weeded out a lot of the pictures for the sake of my vegetarian sister. I love you Cathie Jo!

The grossest food I saw people preparing was antelope head. The grossest thing I tasted was probably porcupine. The best new experience was eating elephant! It had been dried and then can be prepared like beef. It was really good! Supposedly the animal is so big that after they kill it the hunters basically go inside it to cut out the different parts.

I found out that the Congolese are basically hunter-gatherers. Fishing and some cultivation (manioc, peanuts, fruit, and sugar cane) are also important.

Despite signs posted around saying not to touch monkeys, people still eat them and have them as pets. Supposedly the hunters are being careful about ebola virus by not killing any sick monkeys or picking up ones that were already dead. We refrained from touching/eating/whatever. Just say no to ebola.

During our time in Ouesso we usually ate lunch in one of two restaurants. To make sure there would be something edible for us, we'd place an order the day before or in the morning. We often just ate rice and beans, which was tasty and satisfying. But we could order anything available in town, including wild boar, antelope, and beef. In the evening we'd eat something simple at home. Simple usually meant semi gross and unhealthy. Bread with Vache Qui Rit ("Laughing Cow," a spreadable "cheese." The cow is laughing that we actually ate it), beignets (doughnut balls fried every morning and night by women all around town), pasta noodles with onion and garlic (that was actually good). That was about it. Oh, towards the end we discovered a woman who grills chicken legs every night. It's super good! We can't figure it out though because there's a ban on imported chicken right now, but hers was so tender there's no way it was local.

All that to say that by the time we got back to Brazzaville my mouth was watering for some American food!


johne nomad said...

You know it's a good paragraph about cuisine when it starts with "Despite signs posted around saying not to touch monkeys," and ends with "Just say no to ebola." :)

Thanks, J-Le - absolutely loved this blog!

Elia said...

Jess, absolutely awesome stories and pictures!! I can't believe you eat elephant and porcupine. Are they allowed to kill elephants to eat?