Muryohe Rwe! A Short Field Trip to Rwanda cover

Muryohe Rwe! A Short Field Trip to Rwanda

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Field to Feast has never wrote and posted in situ, but here goes - I am writing to you from the shores of Lake Kivu, in western Rwanda, a 10-minute drive from the border with the DRC. Lake Kivu has the unenviable privilege of being considered one of Africa’s “killer lakes” because of the amount of dissolved methane gas and carbon dioxide at the bottom of the lake–gases that could one day burst to the surface, releasing toxic fumes. On the bright side, the methane is being explored as a source of energy–it has even been used to power the nearby Bralirwa brewery.





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Muryohe Rwe! A Short Field Trip to Rwanda

Alternate Views

Today is a little overcast, so the lake and the sky are an almost indistinguishable grey.

But, small waves are lapping on the sandy beach and the air is mild, so I am not complaining about the bland view. I had enough spectacular views this morning on the 20-minute drive to some nearby hot springs. The bumpy road wound through hills and valleys of banana grooves, with slices of the lake visible around each bend. Tiny shops lined part of the route–buildings of painted clay, some labeled “café-resto,” others selling phone cards or a small selection of groceries.

Bean Trials

Bean Trials

Climbing bean trials in Nyagatare, in Rwanda's Eastern Province.

Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Going Bananas

Homes were scattered on the hillside, some on precarious perches, with tiny dirt paths snaking up to their doorsteps.

Men pushed rickety bicycles uphill, loaded down with sugarcane stalks or bananas, and women made steep climbs, carrying huge, gravity-defying baskets of bananas and avocadoes on their heads. Although I’ve been in Rwanda almost a week, I have not been doing as much food research as I should.

Yes, I did eat brochettes (kebabs) and chips, with potent chili sauce. And, yes, I have consumed more bananas this week than I’ve had in the past year – fried plantains, bananas boiled with green split peas (amashaza mu gitoke), bananas as breakfast, and bananas as dessert.

New Places

New Places

General View - a dirt road in Rwanda's Eastern Province.

Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Local Brews

Beyond brochettes and bananas, I really liked isombe, a cooked mixture of greens, peanut butter, and chopped, baseball-size white eggplants.

I’ve also eaten sambaza (sardines) from Lake Kivu (the same ones that are dried and called kapenta in Zimbabwe), and paid homage to the aforementioned brewery, which makes Mitzig and Primus, the most popular local brews. I’m sure there is much more to Rwandan cooking and drinking, however! To be explored in a future trip…hopefully one I which I see the gorillas and drink homemade banana wine.

A Local’s View

A Local’s View

A farmer who is trialing climbing beans.

Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Useful Tips

Despite the brevity of my trip, I did want to share with you some Kigali restaurant tips.

As a complete coincidence, while searching the internet in the hopes of double-checking some spellings, I discovered that I went to all four restaurants listed in this May 2008 article on Kigali’s best-loved restaurants. Clearly, I was getting good dining-out advice from my colleagues!

Chez Lando is an open-air, beer garden-esque place, where I had high hopes of ordering the whole grilled tilapia. They were all out, unfortunately, and it was painful watching the last two orders go to a nearby table; the dish looked stunning, and plenty for two people. I ate the fish brochettes instead – they were a little bland for me and needed a good dose of pili-pili hot sauce!

Uglai and Cabbage

Uglai and Cabbage

Photo by Flickr user Mark Skipper.

(CC BY 2.0)

Food to Love

Goat brochettes are supposed to be the restaurant's specialty.

Khazana’s ambiance may be over-the-top Bollywood, but the food was, without exaggeration, among the best Indian meals I’ve had at any restaurant. The hearty, deeply-spiced chickpea dhal was my favorite. And I’d never taken a liking to injera – this is, until I ate the injera at Lalibela, an Ethiopian restaurant near the stadium. The shiro wot was fabulous. Even me, who has a mushy bread phobia (one reason I have never been too keen on French toast) was devouring the mushy spots of injera where the shiro had soaked right through.

Article courtesy of FieldToFeast.

(CC BY-SA 2.5)