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The science of eating Ugandan mikolo food

Ugandan mikolo food is eaten with a strategy….

It’s an art: On Eid, yours in writing was summoned to a Ugandan food fest in Kasokoso by Aunt Nalongo, aka Musawo. The venue and participants had been carefully selected. In Uganda, food fests are not joking sessions. They are moments for a man and woman to prove their worth, and their tenacity. In Uganda, one is as good as their eating abilities. Today, we venture into the hidden secrets to this Ugandan mikolo food.


Ugandan mikolo food always start with arrival. Make no mistake of arriving earlier than 2pm. During this time, the food will be undergoing the final confirmation moments. The food tasters will be doing final touches and corrections and confirming beyond reasonable doubt that the food is ready for the eating. As such, you must arrive at the break of 3pm.

One ought to carefully choose their attire. You must find something elastic, something that will give you freedom. Remember, eating mikolo food is an art. You can be undone by your fashion. At this special fest, we had great members such as Hajjat Tinny and Sister Joan. They wore robes under the pretext of dresses. They had come to do nothing but destroy anything that landed on their plates.

The seating

Once you have arrived and pleasantries exchanged, it is time to prepare for the actual match. Let me note, when travelling to a Ugandan food fest, one must be armed with weapons such as a ‘black kaveera’, and some items to confuse your host. In Uganda, you never visit empty handed lest you sink the spirit of your host.

It is preferable that you choose a seating location next to a wall. Ugandan mikolo food is eaten with a strategy. If you can find a corner, then you have won the first of many battles. Also remember that when it all hits the fan, you can always pull out the mighty hand, and use it to brace your body. In Uganda, it is argued that a human being has many stomachs, and with different sitting positions, one can always find those stomachs.

The serving

Did I tell you that Ugandan food is served in an exhibition style? Everyone in the host family will prepare something. We are cushioned in Uganda. You do not put all your eggs in one basket. There will be someone preparing the groundnut sauce, another doing the salad, another for the matooke. It is the matooke chap that gets all the respect. Matooke is the stamp for mikolo food.

In Uganda, matooke is cooked with a lot of care and dedication. You must know things such as ‘kusanika and kubobeeza.’ Therefore, when the food is finally served, it is a competition to see which food will invite the most mouths. Every food is a stall. The owners of the stalls will be watching closely to ensure their stall gets emptied at a faster rate compared to other stalls.

But I suspect Aunt Nalongo had rigged the match in favour of the food. Despite all my great planning, and strategic endeavours, the food proved too good to defeat.

The big fight

In Uganda, it is not just food. It is an actual war. Of course, you can never win the fight against Ugandan food. The goal is not to defeat the food, it is not to go down without a great fight.

I watched all the fighters representing their respective homes. Lt. Gen Flavia chose to go to battle with her bare hands. You stand a bigger chance of winning the war if you avoid cutlery. Do not wash your hands from a sink. Ask for the famous ‘kataasa’ and that famous cup and soap that comes with it.

Field Marshall Kisakye chose to spring right into the war. He aimed to win in the fastest time possible. But little did he know that Nalongo had planned this food fight weeks in advance. She had put twists to everything. Everything was a distraction. Just as one concentrated on fighting the matooke, one would be distracted by the pilau. Then the chicken would cross by in some rare fashion. Across the table was a whole family of drinks, tribes of all fruits, tribes of all snacks.  I chose to focus on one enemy at a time. At this point, I knew if I stood a chance then I could only defeat this food puloseesi by puloseesi. The devil is a liar. Instead, the food won stomach by stomach. When it comes to mikolo food, the mouth will never give up. It is the stomach that surrenders. And even then, you must plead to the host to come and rescue you.

Sister Joan argued that one must fill their plate with all the foods. It is in this mélange that the enjoyment is in this mix, this struggle to fight all foods at once, knowing that you won’t win the fight anyway. But you fight regardless.

The post-fight moment

When every visitor has been defeated, when Col. Ritah stands up and submits to the lordship of the food, it is time to gather. One can watch the host and her entourage gleaming with a wide smile. She knows once again, she has proven that she is not to be defeated. That her arsenal of foods has once again taken home the trophy.

This is the moment praises are showered on every food. We move notes of thanks. Then the conversations start. You never leave your position until it is time to go home. Someone will always come to clear the plates as you swallow your defeat. The food won the fight, but we also served it some good justice. We rained all tribes of punches and kicks on the food. We could hear it wailing.

The acceptance

At the end of this great food fest, one must pack some food for the chaps at home. In Uganda, you do not narrate a food experience, you carry some food with you for the parties at home to get a taste of the experience. This is the moment for the food boxes and the famous containers and kaveeras. Otherwise how else will our commander in Chief, Field Marshall Maama know that we did our best, but our opponents proved to be superior?

And it is not packing until some of the packed food spills along the way. Yes, Col. Ritah and Musaawo accused Lt. Gen. Flavia of kicking her food box.  For how else would the crowd in Kisaasi have known that the men and women of Naalya had just put up a great fight in Kasokoso? As a descendant of the Chwezi and a Son of Nkokonjeru, I have vowed to show food no pint of mercy at the next mukolo. I have vowed to teach Nalongo a lesson. I have vowed to restore the honour of my great ancestors, to avenge this defeat at the battle of Kasokoso. For all those planning to invite me to the next food fest, rest assured that I will leave no stone unturned. The Ugandan food revolution is unstoppable.

Twitter: ortegatalks

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