Entry #53: What’s Ugandan Food even?

Date: 24 September 2019
Time: 8:10pm

The rabbit hole post that you didn’t want to read :^)

Food Variety… or lack thereof

Am I okay with the food here? Sure.
Am I actually okay with the food here? Well. Haha.

While I do enjoy eating some foods here like plantains, mashed plantains, or even chunky and slightly mashed plantains, the lack of flavors and diversity of foods is sometimes off-putting. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what I was going to expect in the first place lol.

What is Ugandan food supposed to be?

Most Ugandan food is pretty much packed with potatoes, plantains and other starch-based foods. It’s not bad, by any means, but what is lacking is the accompaniments that come with it.

The menu of food choices could be counted with your two hands, and maybe because of the incredible amount of choice we have back at home, it’s difficult to get used to.

Most volunteers would probably struggle with local foods

While some volunteers I know here are cool with the local foods, some volunteers I know would much rather be eating something else. It’s at no fault to the country or to the Peace Corps program, but if you, as the volunteer here, wanting a different set of foods you pretty much have only two options:

  1. Cook it yourself
  2. Pay a premium

Once I got to site, it was a push and pull. Now that I have full control over my food choices, it means… I have full responsibility over my meals. You can’t depend on others to feed you and that was something to get used to after having the ability to go out to a restaurant or having meals served to you like the days in training.

Everything comes with a trade-off doesn’t it?

Well, why is it so hard?

Well, what is hard anyways?

The difficulty I have here is that things are so incredibly different from what I once knew. As someone who comes from a Filipino background, living in Hawai’i, and raised with American culture, there are so many choices for food back at home.

The choices were always there and within reach. I would wake up to my mom and dad’s cooking from whatever they got at the market. I would get lunch at the local market for fresh fish and rice. And for dinner, it was whatever crazy recipe I wanted to try next.

You get comfortable with where you can buy groceries, and if you want, you can whip up your own crazy dish every now and then because of the plethora of available ingredients. The routes and drives, the sales and cool spots you’ll try to find on Yelp!, that’s not the reality here anymore.

Coming to Uganda, you lose the luxury of convenience and availability of almost everything.

The feeling of being so displaced from what you once knew as a normal life is what makes things hard. In the perspective of a Ugandan, life is hard, but in a different way.

It’s not just about food.

Who are you?

It’s not just about the difference in food choices, it’s a change in lifestyle. For the first time in my life, I have to explain what it means to be Filipino, what it means to be living in Hawai’i, and what it means to blend it all in with American culture.

  • I’m Asian, but I’m not Chinese, Japanese, or Korean
  • I’m Filipino, but I’m not from the Philippines.
  • I live in Hawaii, but I’m not Hawaiian.
  • I live in Hawai’i but I’m still American.
  • I’m American, but I never feel like one. Because I’m Filipino.

I would never have had to explain anything about this back at home. That’s crazy to think of! The questions just take you through a rabbit hole series of thoughts that doesn’t have a single resounding answer for you to give. I’ve been trying to figure this out on my own, but it’s just a little overwhelming haha.

I’m still having to think about this a lot, and these things come up every day when I’m mistaken for being something that I’m not.

I get called Chinese because of my eyes. I get called Indian because of my brown skin. I get called White because of my lack of black skin.

And the first few times that happened, I got upset. But the more and more it happened, the more I started to not get upset, but question why it was happening in the first place. The easiest thing I could think of is that that’s all they know, that’s all they see.

The rabbit hole continues

It’s a long discussion to go over about identity in Uganda, so I’ll leave it for a more thoughtful day. I’m tired, and also my laptop battery is running low lol. ’til next week! Or something.


  • Mommy , September 24, 2019 @ 9:33 pm

    I can’t wait for you to come home ….

    • Josh , September 25, 2019 @ 10:15 am

      Coming soon!

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