Written by: Jennifer Goetz
Before I went on safari, I had no expectations on what the food would be like. I hoped it would be good, but also knew that most of the lodges are located several hours away from the nearest town and wasn’t sure how fresh things would be.
I also had memories of the camping trips I took as a child, where we’d hike in and carry all provisions. Ever had freeze-dried macaroni? Apparently, the astronauts also ate it. The novelty of eating something that had been consumed at zero gravity wore off very quickly, and I came to think of camping cuisine as anything that could either be flame-boiled or reconstituted. Yum.
Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Our first two nights on safari in the Serengeti were in basic tents out in the middle of nowhere. We did private, mobile camping and had our own team who not only set up our tents and gravity-fed solar shower, but they also set up a mess tent and cooked for us! That first night, after spending over 12 hours under the hot African sun following the migration and its predators, we wearily and warily made our way to the mess tent, where our grinning chef awaited us.
We had no idea what was in store for our stomachs, so we were elated to see a rather elaborate meal had been prepared for us. We’d start with a hot soup made from fresh veggies. We then moved on to the main course which was a delicious meal of chicken and veggies over Ugali. Ugali is a local staple made from corn and is sort of like polenta. Dessert was fresh fruit (mangos to die for) and some cake. I have to add that the presentation on each dish was faultless. The mangos were cut in crisscross fashion and carefully placed on the plates. Soups were colourful and included a swirl of fresh cream.
We’d then sit around the fire and sip a wine or beer and talk about the next day. If camping was this good, what would the lodges be like? They only got better. Honestly. The food was so fresh and so delicious that at each day around 4pm, I began fantasising about that night’s dinner.
At one lodge I hit a slight road bump, or did I? We were told the main dish for the night was a beef dish. Since I did not eat beef I opted for the vegetarian option. I was wondering what they’d bring out as vegetarian can be interpreted many different ways and often includes copious amounts of cheese to somehow compensate for the lack of meat. I was astounded to see a plate heaped high with fresh veggies, from smoked aubergine (eggplant) to potatoes and cabbage. I counted nine veggies in this dish. I was in heaven! I can only speak for Tanzania and Kenya, but the food I’ve had on safari is some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. Bon appétit!
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