Kiros…”The King”

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Kiros joins the fast food competition in Kinshasa with an array of food stations offering everything from  chawarma, ice cream to baklava.  The open air cafe reminds me of a food court in any shopping mall in America.   There are varieties of Lebanese sweets and affordable bites.  The most interesting station for me was the frappacino station, with it choice of chocolate or strawberry fraps. This fast growing triangle of Kinshasa hosts The Memling Hotel, Steers, and Kin Delicious on eat street.  Take your pick and enjoy an affordable family outing.

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The Chawarma is King in the “Kin. “

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There is one unique thing about this Chawarma in Kinshasa.  It’s so popular its almost “thee” national food on every menu and everyone loves it.  This middle eastern delicacy of unleaven bread, french fries and grilled chicken, goat, turkey, lamb or beef in the Congo’s fast healthy food.  The chawarma is light, non-fattening, dressed with salad of cucumbers, pickles, parsley and a choice of garlic mayonnaise, hot chilis or bbq sauce.

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Hunger Busta Kinshasa

Its cheaper and faster than a cheeseburger…and it holds the fries in the blanket of soft leaven bread with delicious juices in layers salad.
     Its almost impossible to see this Chawarma society squeezing fufu and soup at lunch time.   I almost forgot to mention the typical sides of hummus and fatouch.
     This tells you of the numerous influences of people, food and cultures melted together in this Central African country formerly known as Zaire.

Le Bistro de la halle (Institute Francais)

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A serene environment of relaxation and learning with a luscious outdoor dining room and amphib theatre surrounded by natural greenery in Gombe, the heart of Kinshasa. The Institute Francais offers many events throughout the year.  It is located between Maison du France which has an olympic size pool, tennis courts, a gym and many different classes and Lycee du France.
    I love the community bulletin boards which share many announcements, opportunities beyond the local happenings.   It helps to know a little French to realize you’ve been missing a multitude of happenings.

The Art of Haggling

The finesse of haggling and the saavy shopper theory moves to a different level when you add a foreign language in the equation. Yet, haggling is a culture and the seller enjoys a good debate and a sale! If you don’t haggle you’ll probably pay too much and become everyone’s cadeau…because sellers will tell others you dont know the prices.
So, let me give you very simple ways to haggle for success. First…and foremost…change your money before you go to the market. There are numerous distractions and if your not skilled in the exchange rate of dollars to Congolese francs and you might be very disappointed later.
Now, for the dressing, you can’t really hide that your a foreignor, but if you lay your money on the table and point…you’ll be able to secretly decide what your willing to pay. Some sellers post their prices and others don’t. Always cut their price in half with your first offer. If its too low, you’ll enjoy the expressions, gestures and such. Oh, I almost forgot…dress down….as looking “too good” means you can pay the premium price.
Now, here’s the secret tactic….pause..scratch your head…..by now the price should be coming down…if not…pretend to walk away. The seller will now aggressively agree to your price, but you’ll have to pay for the sack.
You may hear the sellers call you mama mundele. It only means “you have the means to pay.”
There is one phrase to convince the seller you’re not new to Kinshasa.
French is okay, but Lingala is more common in the marketplace. The ease of Lingala being spoken just like you read it makes a fast easy transition. So try it..
Boni – How much (is that)?

So, stay tuned for the next article of Congo Eats.

Wayfaring As One

Whilst trying to make our way through the busy streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, we were edging towards that point of hunger when you don’t know what you want to eat. We passed some ladies selling ‘sort of’ donuts as street food and did a double take as we walked past. Big mistake we found. As quick as a flash, the two women had picked up their baskets and were running down the road after us shouting in Vietnamese. They were obviously well trained in selling ‘combat’ and sandwiched us in between them, blocking our way out with baskets. We agreed that we would buy two of the items, however one of the women starting piling item upon item into a plastic bag, despite our clear protests (shaking our heads and waving our hand over the bag).

They were obviously well trained in selling ‘combat’ and sandwiched us in between…

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Garden Fresh Ratatouille

A fancy name for gravy, but nevertheless, it fits well with fish, goat, chicken or cow meat.

Life Bites

Ratatouille is a big plate of stewed fresh veggies and herbs that is so filling and satisfying you’ll want to make it after every run to the farmers markets. 

Being an extremely flexible dish, ratatouille is great for using up any straggling veggies in your refrigerator, or customize it to fit your family’s specific tastes! Make a big pot too, because the flavors just get better as they sit and marry together.

I like a bit more tomato flavor in my ratatouille that a traditional recipe, but that’s what is so fun about this!  Make it just how you want! Add mushrooms, leave out some tomatoes or squash, add peas, do anything you want and make it your own.  🙂  I used fresh veggies from my local farmers markets.

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I served my ratatouille over cous cous, and topped with with fresh tangy goat cheese to liven up the stewed veggies…

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Bangkok’s Best Street Food

I haven’t been to Thailand in many years, but Thai food draws me in no matter where I am in the world.

Yuanita Christiani and the useful posts

Krua Ba Cha-am, Bangkok.

To find the best pad thai stall, go out the back door of the Sri Yan market, continue past the motorbike queue, and look for an open-air restaurant painted bright pink. Or ask the locals, ‘Raan pad thai yuu tii nai?’ (Where is the place that sells pad thai?) Thanon Sri Yan, just behind the Sri Yan market.

Dessert Vendor Lan Taw Toon, Bangkok, Thailand.

Around lunchtime, near the back door of the Sri Yan market, you’ll see Lan Taw Toon set up her array of simple treats—shaved ice, palm sugar, and coconut cream with a variety of colorful toppings. She has been making the same old-fashioned Bangkok dessert for 47 years.

Old-School Pad Thai Preparation.

Pad Thai prepared over charcoal woks. We got here at 5 p.m. when the place opened, and by 5:30 even with eight woks going there was a huge line outside.

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Goatober is Coming!

Just a little humor added to my favorite meat.

“Goatober’s Coming”

Okay, it’s true, “Goatober” is fast approaching as the Official month of “Goat Meat.”  Although, I don’t think Hallmark Cards has caught on. The real truth is that two-thirds of the world already eat goat meat, cheese and prefer goat milk.  Are you surprised yet?

Much of the world is ahead of the game when it comes to the “Other red meat”  and its nutritional value. Yet the infusion of  goat meat in America is more like snail mail. There is a general attitude that goat meat is “gamey.”  Nevertheless, goat is usually found in local farmers markets, niche markets specializing in ethnic foods from different countries, and of course, a whole foods store. <img class="size-medium wp-image-31" src="https://edjeca.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/goat-tied-at-tree.jpg?w=300" alt=" In the Congo a goat delivered on a motorcycle in Kikwit" from the village chief is a supreme gift. width="300"
So here in Congo (Zaire) goat meat is a sheer delicacy!

The cultural immersion of “goat meat” could be a saving grace for Americans and the growing health problems of diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension that come with American fast food, red meat, and eating processed foods. Another added advantage is that goat meat hasn't shown up in one of those fattening food slide shows on the web. Goat meat has less fat and more protein and can be ground, cubed, curried, stewed or barbecued.

Goat Meat

Goat is as normal a choice as chicken or fish at the local markets; and the goats are really fresh because their tied to the poles waiting for a buyer to make their selection.
 So, how do you know a good goat from a bad goat…you got me.????  So, off we go to Zigida Market for a goat buying trip. My kids are excited for very different reasons, one thinks it will make another pet, while the oldest knows, the goat is going on the grill.  Nevertheless, the right side of my brain says, there’s a logic to this goat buying business, so just ask the seller the kilos of the goat and multiply.  The goat seller estimates the goat is about 20 kilos, then he raises the hind legs and murmurs something in French, my small daughter translates, mom, that’s a man goat, (uh huh…ok), so that’s suppose make the difference in my decision…. I think)…so instead, I multiplied the kilos by the per piece price of 15000CF per kilo (ka…ching! $16.30…hmmm.)   So, the goat seller says, “this goat is $125.00, but we can talk, meaning “ lets haggle…yeah! I’ve already got my money separated just like shopping at a yard sale. You know $100 in the right bra pocket $50 in my “mind your own business bag,” thats the black plastic bag and a bunch of francs in my purse. Hint… the whole goat is cheaper than by the kilo, I’m thinking silently.

Now we’re talking something I can understand…kilos, dollars and selling price, I’m back to the right brain analogy.  I ask the goat seller who will do the slaughtering, using my normal French Lingala melange (mix) and sign language. I  make a cutting sign across my own neck and pointing to the goat. He grabs his long machete and says very proudly, “Moi madame.” Oh good, I say, as though we are all speaking the same language.  By now, I’ve given you enough time to do the math for yourself…so you know goat pricing isnot about logic, its about haggling.

To put the rumors to bed, the goat I’ve had doesn’t seem gamy, but I’ve been eating goat, “cabrito” all my life.  Some people will tell you to use a little vinegar to par boil the goat chops, or meat tenderizer.  Goat meat is a sweet substitute for “the other red meat,” and the preparation is very similar.  The combination of goat meat coated in “Suya seasoning of roasted peanuts, pepper, salt and oil in West Africa is a best memories experience.  Goat meat has a special meaning around midnight at a party or wedding in West Africa.  Goat soup or (Pepper soup with fish )with a lots of scotch bonnet pepper normally starts the ending of the party with a sobering goat soup with fufu.

Did I mention the local delicacy of goat’s head and intestines soup in the Kasai Province?   You will be able to tell where people are from if you start preparing the goat’s skin, as the aroma attracts its normal followers.  Barbecue goat with a side of plantain, or chikwanga (fermented bread steamed in leaves) are a common demand in Bonne Marche.  But if you want to enjoy grilled goat barbecue, Bonn Marche is the place to buy a morsel or two at 2500CF ($2.71) a piece.  The chef will chop this into many pieces, add seasoning and you can ask for natural oil from the goat itself or vegetable oil….as he wraps it in butcher block paper for the grill.

Happy Goatober!

 

 

Kinshasa, DR Congo, Food, Congolese