This is a photo of Kamulari (pronounced come-la-lee). I was given these very small bright red peppers by one of the teachers…. it all started a few weeks ago. I should say that my cooking in Kibaale is not anything close to how I would live in Canada. First of all, I am not eating meat. Meat in Kibaale is found hanging on a hook covered in flies. The nearest meat store that I know about is in Masaka… and that is for ground beef if it is available which is not often. Kampala is the closest and that can be anything from a half day’s ride to a full day of traveling depending on your mode of transportation…. In Kampala you can buy frozen packages of meat and then work hard to keep it frozen all the way back to Kibaale. It is a lot of work and the few times I have bought meat it was semi thawed by the time it reached Kibaale. So…. I am eating semi vegetarian. I have cans of sardines, and tuna along with cheese which I bought in Kampala otherwise the rest of my foods are local….whatever is available: tomatoes, potatoes, red and green onions, cabbage, carrots, garlic, beets, avocados and green peas occasionally.

One of the things that excited me about coming to Uganda was the food…. well, it was my memory of the food my cook made for me when I lived in Zaire (now known as the Independent Republic of the Congo). He made this very tasty dish of beans and rice. I was told that at noon beans and rice are served daily for the students and staff in Kibaale…. So I thought that it would be similar to the dish my cook made me years ago….. I was totally wrong…. the beans and rice are very bland and tasteless. Well, for me it is. I have not been to anyone’s home yet for a meal nor have a eaten out at any local restaurants. In Masaka, I have eaten out at a Danish establishment where they cook specifically for the foreigners.

So… I have been asking the staff in Kibaale and at the Timothy Centre if there is such a thing as a hot pepper. Finally, a week ago… the matron of the Timothy Centre told me about this pepper called a Come-la-lee. I worked hard to remember the name and on my return to Kibaale asked the staff of the clinic….. but it maybe my pronunciation because they did not know what I was talking about. Finally, one of the teachers understood my question and arrived a few days ago with these few branches. He told me that it was not very hot.

So… last night I decided to cook up a dish using these peppers. I was going to have a stir fry of cabbage, carrots, red onions, tomatoes and these peppers. I cut one up smelled it ….it seemed mild. So, in the end I put three in my stir fry…. remember it was a portion only for me.

I started the stir fry and got hit by the heat…. the aroma was wonderful…. it reminded me of Zaire and my taste buds came alive….. but the intense heat from the flumes brought tears to my eyes. Well, it was too hot…. it scorched my tongue and mouth…. it caused me to cry and my nose started to run…… I could only eat 1/4 of the amount of food I cooked. I thought about my friend Daisy who loves the hot foods…. she would have enjoyed this dish.

This morning…. Karl came by. He has lived in Uganda for a few years. He knew what they were and somewhat surprised by my story of last night’s dinner. He suggested the next time I start with 1/2 and increase with each new dish until it is what I want. I have many peppers…… I will be giving a few to Karl to enjoy. He wants to grow the peppers because he sees that there is a market for them……

So… why is the beans and rice so tasteless and bland in the dinning hall each noontime? I do not know but it is clear to be that it is not the whole story of what the Ugandan people eat at home. I will have to wait and see…..