When I was in Africa, I was able to experience many foods that I'd never heard of or seen before. This is one of my favorite things about traveling - the discovery of new flavors, and along with them, new cultures. Recently, I found myself on assignment in South Sudan. This is a nation normally associated with civil strife - a quick search only brings up awful headlines about the fighting that is still ongoing in this beautiful country. Dealing with this humanitarian crisis was the main reason for my being there, yet when I'm on assignment, I still always make an effort to dive into local culture as much as I can.
The best way to do this, in my opinion, is through food.
I befriended the local cook making meals for the other South Sudanese staff in our office and began trying to the aromatic meals she cooked daily. My favorite quickly became a pounded paste of greens called Sukumawiki. I promise I loved the taste of it, not just the name! :)
She explained to me that these dark leafy greens, sort of similar to our collard greens, grow wild by the Nile River. Local women pick the greens and sell them at the markets. They are boiled and mashed up with onion, tomato and spices. I would eat huge heapings of these greens, to the point that my colleagues would laugh at me. I still miss Sukuma, as they affectionately call the dish. I'm going to try and replicate it soon yet I somehow don't think I'll be able to capture the flavor of the Nile in the same way.