kumbi kumbi

I suppose it's time to write a little sumptin' about the cuisine here in Tanzania. I've traveled from east to west now and currently I'm holed up in a nice little spot on Lake Tanganyika, so I feel seasoned enough to get my thoughts out on such a delicate topic. I'll admit, I'm not a foodie. Furthermore, I probably have simple requirements as it relates to food; tasty, please and lots of it. For the most part food here is simple: rice, beans, plantain, chicken, goat, fish. In a sentence that pretty well sums up what you're about to eat, or what you're currently eating, or what you've just eaten, or what's on the menu at the cute little place down the street, or presumably, what's on the menu even when they don't actually have a menu.

There is another local staple known as ugali, however. This interesting mound of matter which closely resembles a Thanksgiving-sized portion of mom's mashed potatoes, has the consistency of dough made from cassava root or maize flour. The secret to this little stomach expander is to first grab a fist full, roll it into a ball, use your thumb to create an imprint or spoon of sorts and dip it into your soup or beans or fish or chicken. It has a rather bland taste but what it lacks in flavor it entirely makes up with its affordability and unrivaled supremacy in dilating your stomach increasingly for hours after you eat it.

All of this food is fairly tame, mind you, and perhaps a vegetarian's nightmare, but tame nonetheless. That is until I ran across a curious little food called kumbi kumbi. And although the maxim may suggest something to the effect an image has the power of some thousand word soliloquy, you can clearly see that claim is false 'cause this photo leaves me rather wide-eyed and speechless. Sautéed up in a little oil or eaten raw, wings removed, with a glass (or 5) of fine chianti is all one really needs. In fact, you may have just discovered that perfect starter dish to entertain the in-laws over the holidays. These unfortunate flying insects (unfortunate for them, not you) are an epifamily of the cute and cuddly cockroach in case you're wondering. But if one could look beyond the words of Wikipedia, or close their eyes and open wide, this little critter packs a wallop of nutrition. In Africa everything is big including these free-ranging, certifiably organic termites.

So if dinner tonight happens to be a medley of nosh all too familiar, spice it up a little and try something new. Bon appetit!