…and a couple of cents give or take.
It’s not just wishful thinking. Someday, I’ll giving Anthony Bourdain and his Parts Unknown a run for their money. Credit to that is the fact that, akin to Mr. Bourdain’s travel exploits, I too have become a self proclaimed connoisseur (of sorts) of great but cheap eats in the course of my comings and goings.
Eating is the easy part. Try grabbing a hearty meal for under One US dollar. The dollar meal in Africa today is becoming increasingly elusive as food prices continue to soar. By my own admittance, the endeavor of finding this meal requires no mastery. Such meals are simply a function of the compositions of the meal itself and the location. Therefore, if you don’t mind sometimes sharing dining space with things that crawl or if you can look past the luxury of eating while sitting down (for example), you could turn an empty stomach into an nourished one a dollar later.
Dollar meals shouldn’t always constitute an evocation of the ‘big M’ and its mc nuggets, mc doubles etc.
Here is an example of my culinary adventures with sub-dollar meals.
Chapati-Matumbo na Mchicha
Chapati-Cow Intestines with Spinach
Price: 90.00 Kshs 0.98 Dollars
Location: Likoni-Mombasa, Kenya
In a little wooden shack in Likoni, right after you get off the ferry, a man endlessly rolls fist size balls of dough into flat disks; mechanically. There is half a meter stack of cooked chapatis on his right and a charcoal stove glowing in the dimly lit cooking area right in front of him.
Samaki Mkavu, Chapati na Maji ya Maembe
Fried fish, Chapati with Mango Juice
Price: 100 Kshs 1.09 Dollars
Location: Lamu, Kenya
If Kiswahili words meant nothing, one would still find endless strings of poetry in the effortlessly melodious accents of the patrons of Hamza’s little restaurant tucked away in the paved shoulder to shoulder streets in the maze that is Lamu town.
Maize Polenta with Beef
Price: 1500 Tshs 0.83 Dollars
Location: Kigamboni-Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
I was half kidding when I requested, even demanded, that I get an extra piece of meat. My excuse was that great things come in threes. And how was it that I had ordered Ugali with beef, yet my plate had more beans than meat. She pointed out the extra sardines and vegetables that come with the meal but my smile brightened when a third piece of meat dropped into my plate splashing delicious beef stew onto the sides of the partitioned silver plate.
Urojo na Chapati
Urojo (mixed vegetable, meat and egg soup) with Chapati
Price: 1800 Tshs 1.00 Dollars
Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania
I haven’t the slightest clue as to what my meal constituted in its entirety. On one hand, I had a chapati rolled like a scroll. On the other, my spoon was pointed downwards into a concoction of a potato, a hard boiled egg…etc.