When I travel, I have a rule. I must try a new food every day. This rule serves me in good stead. I have fascinating and delicious food experiences, and get to know a place far better than I would otherwise. One of the great finds, a gem, of this rule is the ‘rolex’ of Uganda. Over the summer, a high-school friend and I drove around Africa. It was a great adventure, the two of us together in our own car, not having seen each other for about four years. We began our journey in Uganda. She had been there previously, but I had not. She was particularly keen to introduce me to rolex for breakfast. Well, I didn’t turn back! From that first day, I had rolex for breakfast virtually every day. A rolex is chapatti rolled up with a fresh cooked omelette. There are several variations from vendor to vendor. Often the omelette will include either tomato or mild onion, or sometimes carrot. The vendors normally roll out the chapatti dough and cook it on a rudimentary hot plate over coals. While the chapatti is cooking they crack an egg into a cup, add salt, and chop the vegetable straight into the cup. Sometimes the vegetable is prepared a vegetable grater, or more creative cutting skills in which a blunt knife moves through the vegetable toward the vendor’s hand. Very rarely is the vegetable prepared on a board, the way I would. The mix is beaten and cooked on the same hotplate as the chapatti with a little vegetable oil, flipped, and laid atop the chapatti before being rolled up and handed to the customer. This food is nothing fancy. I wish it were made with free-range eggs, but my it was delicious, real people food, and for fast food, beat the hell out of McClanFood. For weeks, the coveted (I’m sure) title, ‘my favourite rolex’ remained with a man outside Entebbe, who used up yesterday’s chapatti, but laid them onto a mix of two (not one) eggs on the hotplate, making a sort of chapatti French toast, which was delicious. However, on our last days in Uganda, before crossing the border into Rwanda, we were in Kabale. After getting our car fixed for the fourth time, we met a young man who made the best rolex ever! He made his lovely chapatti fresh and had four different types of vegetables in his omelette! He used cabbage, green capsicum, onion AND tomato. He was a great kid, very smart and spoke very good English. We came to learn that his father had died, and I imagine he needed to run this stall to provide for his family. It really bought it home, how vulnerable people can be, and how easily they can be pulled away from achieving their full potential. While I have a great appreciation for his amazing rolex, I can’t help wondering what else he may have been able to achieve, given the opportunity.
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