This is the first of several blogs on comfort foods in the African countries in which I have lived: Burundi, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt.
This morning I made one of my favorite comfort foods, which is a combination of Burundi and the American South. It is cornmeal with cheese cooked in it, and a Maggi cube first dissolved in the water. Delicious, in times of illness, stress, or general malaise.
The cornmeal aspect is the basis of ‘pate’ – Burundian thick porridge that is eaten with a vegetable or meat sauce. The addition of cheese instead of a sauce is very American South (at least, in my family). The Maggi cube is my own addition, giving it a good spicy taste. I cook it in the micro, which is easy and fast.
Other comfort foods in Burundi include – for those with a little money – a goat brochette in the evening, preferably with a beer:
Children love a sweet potato that has been baked in the ashes of a fire. And red beans with rice is a ‘must eat’ for most Burundians, usually as a main meal but any time.
It is common to eat leftovers in the morning, especially as warming up food takes fuel and therefore money. Also, because of a lack of refrigeration.
How about urban Burundians who frequent cafes for breakfast on the weekend? Here, we find a fascinating mix of Western and Burundian dishes: large glasses of milk or yoghurt, bowls of soup, and dishes loaded with some form of vegetable, especially peas or spinach/greens with pan-fried potatoes and sausages.
These weekend breakfasts are usually a long affair with family and friends, often after a healthy jog (Burundians are fond of group jogging on Sunday mornings, and during the jog the group sings).
Fruit is also very much appreciated. And while a variety of pastries may be available, they are generally ignored in favor of plantains or green bananas, beans, and/or potatoes.
- Dusangire I Group : Burundi (kiva.org)
- Twubakerugume Group : Burundi (kiva.org)
- 36 dead in Burundi bar massacre (cbc.ca)
- The Comfort-Food Diet (everydayhealth.com)