Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good Eats

Thanks to my mom for passing along this article from today's NYT, about the lack of African restaurant options in New York City. It's interesting that ethnic food being the rage in New York, it's hard to find an authentic (or even non-authentic) Sub-Saharan option.

I went to Merkato 55, which is featured in the article, for a pre-Swaziland dinner. I don't think my friend and I had a good command of what authentic African food is like - I think we had a sense that the doro wat was pretty traditional, but the "African Brownie" maybe not so much - but we both had a tasty and fun meal.

A lot of people have asked me what I've eaten in Africa, and what Swaziland food is like. It's actually hard to find a Swazi restaurant with traditional food, and I'm not quite sure what's indigenous to Swaziland and what's borrowed from the region. If you go out for breakfast, it's usually either something light (yogurt, breads and muffins, cereal) or a full traditional English breakfast. For lunch I've been eating a lot of take-away curries (served with rice or pap - a thick porridge-like pasty substance that you eat with your hands), toasted sandwiches, and meat and vegetable pies. Dinner - if I'm not cooking - could be piri piri chicken (a spicy Mozambican roasted chicken), a hamburger or steak, or a fillet of fish (salmon or Kingklip), or a take-away Debonair's pizza (the Domino's equivalent) with a Kastle beer (lager or Milk Stout) or a Coca Cola or Fanta, which is made here with sugar instead of corn syrup.

About 90% of the restaurants here have the same feel. They are all reminiscent of what I imagine a high-end restaurant would be like in the U.S. in the early 1980's. The menus are pretty similar too. The selection is always there, but there's little creativity or variance in the menus. Hopefully having a car will open up some new options.

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