Curious to know more about famed Ugandan cuisine? In this article, I’ll take you on a discovery journey relating to Ugandan food customs, its African etiquette. Also, I’ll share with you how to eat Binyebwa, a local delicacy and gist more about matoke banana. Want to know why they call it the Pearl of Africa? Find out here. Specifically, this article brings you some customs and cuisine in Western Uganda. Let’s discover the foods of this landlocked East African nation together!
Why ‘Pearl of Africa’?
In his book titled “My African Journey, Winston Churchill nicknamed Uganda as the Pearl of Africa. He referred to the country’s beauty, natural wonders, vegetation, and welcoming nature of its people. Indeed, Ugandan cuisine is rich and diverse in a manner that befits its title as the Pearl of Africa. As such, Ugandan food customs vary from tribe to tribe. Ugandan meals etiquette are not only diverse, but could also be seen as beautiful like pearls. Indeed Ugandan cuisine is popular the world over due to its original desserts, sauces, and seasonal delicacies.
Western Uganda Customs and Cuisine
Western Ugandan cuisine is a blend of traditional and modern cooking styles. Ugandan meals often consist of vegetables, potatoes, akaro and bananas (matoke). However, the staple food is Akaro and Matoke (cooked green bananas). There are set of customs that define Western Uganda cuisine. These relate to unique Ugandan meals etiquette, and the do’s and don’ts during Ugandan food customs.
Like in most African cultures, women are in charge of Ugandan cuisine. Mothers, aunties and daughters are responsible for preparing these yummy meals. During Ugandan mealtimes, you are served by female members of the household. Following Ugandan African etiquette, women serve stew to each family member on their own plate. They are dedicated to the course and ensure that every member is well served.
Typically, eating in the Pearl of Africa only happen during main mealtimes. This means people only eat their Ugandan cuisine during breakfast, lunch and supper. As such, it is rare to find Ugandans eating out of this three time frame.
In Western Uganda, chai or porridge is served for breakfast. Make no mistake about this; the porridge carries all the nutrients your body needs to grow. This African drink is made from grains and seeds like sorghum, maize, and soy. Furthermore, it can contain high iron, found in beans, and millet, and even milk.
Food customs DOs and DONTs
Typically, Western Ugandan families are best known for their hospitality. This is seen in how they share their meals with neighbors and outsiders. Your Ugandan host will often treat you to various yummy Ugandan cuisine.
Now, I must let you in on a secret – Ugandan mealtimes are family time. When meals are ready and served, all members will come together and wash their hands. Thereafter, they sit down on the floor and say a prayer. Then, they enjoy their meal with a conversation. It is a tradition in the Pearl of Africa to eat most meals with washed bare hands. After eating a Ugandan meal, etiquette demands that members wash their hands again.
Another DON’T of Ugandan African etiquette pertains to drinking water. Note, you can only drink water at the end of a meal! That’s right, it is considered odd to drink water during the course of a Ugandan meal. What do you think of such food customs?
Maintain Silence as part of African etiquette
How about talking while enjoying your Ugandan cuisine? That’s taboo against Ugandan African etiquette. Even children can only speak when asked. Talk about strict table manners. Furthermore, Ugandan meals etiquette also forbid reaching out for salt or spoons across the table. Instead, just simply ask someone to pass it to you.
To avoid offense, be sure to honor African etiquette always. For example, do not walk away from the table during Ugandan mealtimes while others are still sitting. Similarly, it is rude to eat while standing in the western part of the Pearl of Africa. Interestingly, avoid leaning to the left or stretching your legs during mealtimes.
After a meal, members compliment the chef by saying, “wateka Nyabo”, literally means, ”Thank you for preparing the meal, madam”. This shows that you have enjoyed your Ugandan cuisine served to you.
How to eat Binyebwa: matoke banana
Matoke is prepared from green and unripe bananas. These are often mashed together, boiled, or roasted. During any mealtimes, Matoke banana can be accompanied by ebinyebwa sauce (peanut sauce). Check out our Liberian Gambian peanut sauce version.
There is no better way to eat binyebwa than to serve it with Matoke banana. This is a filling and healthy meal for western Uganda that brings out real authentic flavor of Matoke and groundnuts (binyebwa).
Most Western Uganda families prefer to use hands when eating binyebwa but you can also use a fork. Once served, wash hands, cut a piece on the matoke, dip it in the binyebwa and enjoy. Follow this simple Ugandan African etiquette during Ugandan mealtimes, all shall go well.
There’s more to Western Ugandan customs and cuisines than I have discussed in this article. Hope you’ve gotten some insight into Ugandan cuisine. Do you now appreciate African etiquette. Personally, I commend the warmth of family-time, which is normal in most food customs.
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