Snacking, Kibuye Style

by Jess Cropsey 

After living a certain way for a while, you get used to how things are, but sometimes you stop to think about something long enough to realize, Oh yeah, that’s actually pretty weird. A few weeks ago, I walked into our office to see how Elise was doing with her online school work. I found her calmly nibbling on some rose petals from a vase on my desk. Although she assured me it was perfectly safe to eat them, I quickly googled it to make sure.
That same night, I watched Micah climb into his top bunk and noticed some clover hanging out of his pocket. When asked about them, he replied they were for a late night snack while he was reading his book. These back-to-back events made me laugh and realize how weird my kids’ snacking habits really are, thus inspiring me to write this blog about snacking, Kibuye-style. 

First, it brought to mind an English class that I taught to some local teachers not long after we arrived in Burundi. One of our first lessons was about time of day which led to a discussion on meals. I taught them breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then I attempted to teach the word snack, but was met with some very confused looks and questions like, “Wait, you eat again after your dinner?” Sheepishly, I tried to explain this away by telling them that Americans eat dinner much earlier than they do. Now that I better understand the food scarcity in Burundi and know that many Burundians live on 1-2 meals a day, I cringe to think about our discussion that day. Three full meals a day is a privilege while snacks are for young children and the wealthy. 

Since snacking doesn't happen much here, especially in our rural location, many typical snack foods in the US aren't available here. Oh, how we miss Goldfish, graham crackers, Welch's fruit snacks, grapes and cheese sticks! 

Sammy pounding the grapes during one of our final days on our last summer visit to the USA

Peanuts, boiled eggs, and homemade yogurt are some of our common snacks here in addition to bananas, passion fruit, mangoes (seasonally), carrots, cucumbers, and green peppers.
Sam with a mango about the size of his head

And there’s always a variety of homemade bread products available too — banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread; English muffins; tortillas; or bagels. Micah even enjoys onions raw or sometimes sprinkled over cinnamon bread. 

Micah in 2015 combining two of his favorite foods at the time

Apples, strawberries, and Pringles are some of our special snacking treats, but honestly I think my kids really prefer grazing outside.
Susan does a great job managing our community garden and the kids love munching on mint, chives, basil, broccoli leaves, and lettuce. Venturing out of the garden, there are even more choices available like limes, guavas, loquats, gooseberries, passion fruit, blackberries and mulberries from a neighbor’s tree, bush, or vine. There are even certain types of grass that they eat! The kids have been instructed to avoid all mushrooms just in case, but some of the workers enjoy picking the right ones (not the one below!).
But the kids’ all-time favorite go-to outdoor snack is “yum-yums” (or clover). Apparently there is a whole science behind finding just the right ones — bigger leaves are good and avoid ones with holes or yellow spots on the leaves.

Normally we don't allow food in school, but one stem didn't seem worth the battle

Journeying outside the residential area to nearby downtown Kibuye, the kids like to buy sugar cane or goat kebabs.  

A whole stick of sugar cane for about 20 cents

For the really adventurous, you can buy fried termites when the season’s right. 

Fried termites

Or if you're on the go, you can always eat them fresh!

Looking for a fresh termite snack (my kids are only observers here)

Update: Just this morning (Sunday), one of the guards was collecting the pile of flying termites that landed on our porch last night. Mary Wiland, one of our newly arrived teachers, gathered some too and fried them up (that's her picture above)! Taste test below...


Pam Huckel said...

I find this fascinating and wish my kids would snack on rose petals and clover! That is so funny - the onions and cinnamon, interesting combo for sure. Thanks for sharing :)

Pam Huckel

Aunt Star said...

This information just goes to show you that if we teach our children at a young age that some things are good in life, they will carry through with it for all of their life! MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you! Love & miss you!

Bob Ause said...

Well Jessica, we just heard from Erica the confirmation of fried termites snack. She tried them at dinner tonight, Sunday, Dec. 20. There was a large pile of dead ones outsider her door this morning which the night guard swept up and took home. John Cropsey asked someone how to prepare them and Mary Wiland followed the recipe. Erica and Mary tried them as a part of dinner. That's pretty adventurous snacking in my book.

Sarah said...

Wow, that is a nice variety! My kids are on an all-snack, no meal regime.