The Unvegan

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Mount Kilimanjaro Eats

On top, there is no food…or life.

As some of you loyal followers of mine may or may not know, I recently took a stroll to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The trip included a cook who made some pretty impressive camping food, considering porters were carrying everything. Inevitably, some of the food didn’t fit into my unvegan eating habits, but I ate them anyway, because this was not about eating what I wanted, but about survival in a sense. These were things like cucumber soup, zucchini soup and veggie sauce on pasta. No, they didn’t make we want to eat veggies, but they did hammer home the lesson that hunger truly is the best spice.

Grilled cheese is a comfort food even in Tanzania.

There were some highlights though. One day we had some delicious grilled cheeses for lunch. I honestly don’t know what made these grilled cheeses so good. Maybe it was the fact that they were the first cheese I had eaten since arriving in Tanzania. Or maybe it was that they provided a kind of warmth on a cold day that vegetable soup simply couldn’t offer. Or perhaps it was that they were perfectly browned on both sides, the cheese was nice and melty and there is just something awesome about eating grilled cheeses on the side of Kilimanjaro.

A wad of Cole slaw with an otherwise delicious lunch.

Another great meal was “Chips Chicken.” This is basically fries and chicken, and it turns out that this is one of Tanzania’s most popular dishes. I ended up seeing this at just about every local restaurant afterwards and although it may have been quite different down at ground level, the dish definitely pleased us on the mountainside. It was accompanied by some Cole slaw that I avoided, but only because I felt the sugars and protein provided by the rest of the meal could power me up for the remainder of the day.

Chicken and banana, oh my.

But nothing beats the final meal of Curried Chicken and Banana Stew. This was another local dish and was served to us on our last day, after coming back down the mountain. In it was half of a chicken from a local village. In the US we call that free range, in Tanzania they simply call that chicken (this is not to say that they don’t have factory farms in Tanzania, I just thinkthose are the chickens they distinguish, rather than the natural ones).What was so interesting about this dish was the use of bananas, which acted as a sort of potato instead of banana. This is because the banana was not yet ripe and not sweet, so it ended up a bit hard and soaked in the flavor of the curry and stew rather than adding a sweet flavor. Essentially, it acted like a potato rather than a banana. Also, I’m sure the stew tasted even better because it marked the end of an epic six-day journey.

The journey was awesome, and I’m glad it gave me an opportunity to try out some interesting new food and local specialties.