Vegetables and fruits are very important in Rwandan culture, vegetables more than fruits as fruits are treated as snacks whereas vegetables are treated as a must have in most meals. What some call fruits might be considered as vegetables in Rwanda. Vegetables are cooked / eaten fresh or nearly fresh in Rwanda. Rwandans care a lot about the look, freshness of their produces, if they don’t look like the right colors they will not buy them. So, if you ever visit Rwanda, don’t be surprised of early morning small farmers’ market almost everyday or at least a few days a week in certain neighborhood. It is normal for people to wake up early in the morning just to go to the farmers’ markets for fresh fruits and vegetables. At least in rural areas.
Some people travel far, one or two days a week to fetch fresh vegetables from well known farmers’ markets. Tomatoes are some of the important ingredients for Rwandans mainly because they add a nice color to the food and Rwandans care too much about the colors of the food. Most of the side dishes in Rwanda kook red or have a hint of red color from tomatoes.
I personally like colorful everything and that includes a mixture of colorful vegetables and fruits. Recently, I learned that the color of the food we eat does matter nutrition wise. Different color of foods have different benefits. I usually don’t get into nutrition facts too much. I think and believe that too much of anything can’t be good for you, except french fries 😉
Fun facts: I’m sure things have changes but when I was growing up, most Rwandans did not have refrigerators and freezers. So how did they store their produces ? They had kitchens outside of their houses, out in the open with fresh air. The inside temperature was always cool, not too hot and not too cold. So it was safe to keep produces in the kitchen. One interesting that they would use is big clay pots to store produces, which seemed to work best. They would use pots like these, something similar to the first seven clay pots. They would put produces in inside and leave it outside over night and store in inside during the day!
Below, I’m going to share photos of side dishes I make on a daily basis to show you what I meant. If you have more knowledge please share. Also, if you would like to share with us/ me some of your country’s recipes/ traditional dishes please don’t hesitate to contact me.