Mmmmmmmbarara: food as friend or foe?

My monumental task for this blog is to discuss the extremely important issue of food. One of the great wonders: for some, food is more than just the fuel for life’s continuation, but that which brings joy to the body and mind, and unites friends together over common appetite.

Perhaps I’m asking too much of food in Uganda which is better known for its carby-licious matooke (mashed steamed bananas) and posho (maize). Food can tell you a lot about a place: it’s an economic good as well as a social activity and a historical product.  Can it tell you much about people? Let’s see how our Project Workers got on in Mbarara.

Miko, Amanda and Corina (MAC) must be applauded not just for cooking this vibrant pasta and mashed avocado (so cheap here all hipsters are advised to flock to Uganda – you probably haven’t heard of it – where coffee was grown before it was cool), but also for finding spaghetti in Mbarara. Impressed by this fusion cuisine, Project Manager Ellie has challenged the trio at St. Benedict’s Technical Institute to source crumpets to bring back to the central house.


Who knew avocados could be improved?


Rob and Hollie at first seemed to have pulled out all the stops on what appears to be a home-cooked matooke and g-nut sauce: a classic Ugandan dish, tasty if unsightly. Further investigative journalism, for which this blog prides itself on, suggests that the Head Teacher’s wife made this Delia-ghtful meal. She has kindly offered to occasionally cook for our culinarily-challenged duo. Please see Ellie’s blog about the problem of privilege and hospitality in East Africa.

H-R HT's cooking

“It tastes really good” – Rob

Below is what they claim to be their own attempt of a stirfry with carrots, greens and rice. Stunning colours, but do we believe them?

H-R stirfry

Sitr-fry or stir-lie?


Our three PWs at St John’s Rutsya report that they survive on a diet purely consisting of tomato and avocado. With the need to become creative, Bessie, Kate and Susanna created these two masterpieces: ‘spicy salsa on toast with chilli cabbage’, and ‘avocado on toast with chopped tomatoes’. The difference between these two meals is, I’m sure you’ll agree, monumental.


BKS Avo tomato toast

‘avocado on toast with chopped tomatoes’


‘spicy salsa on toast with chilli cabbage’


I’ve saved the best for last. All PWs are hugely envious of Antonio and Ellen who are lucky enough to enjoy Kevin’s cooking which has been described as an art form in itself. This is what Instagram was made for.


#avocados, #sweetpotatochips #rice #veggies #pots #pans #cutlery #table #birdseyeview #mmmmmbarara


We can’t all be as good as Kevin, Antonio and Ellen, however. In the Central House, things reached a low point with PM Ellie’s miserable attempt at porridge. She claims that every other day has proved successful. Maybe she’s not a morning person?

Ellie porridge

A total mess. The porridge doesn’t look so great either.


So what is food? If anything, it’s a challenge. Conquering it produces fine results, but some losses are unavoidable. Sometimes, all we need is just a bit of chicken burger at Mbarara’s Nicoz Restaurant.


Stay classy, Mbarara


Our PW’s attempt at East African food may not yet be of Michelin quality, but back in London, our CEO Anna is clearly missing it all the same.

Anyone for Chapatis?

Anyone for Chapatis?



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Ben is a coordinator in Mbarara and a recent graduate of History from Cambridge.