The first time I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo, I stayed with a Law Professor from the University of Kinshasa. He also spent some time on staff at the University of Portland in the United States. The head of the International Law and International Relations Department of the Law School organised a conference about peace and security in the Congo. They wanted me to speak about sexual violence. It was a fantastic experience.
The University of Kinshasa is in the far outer suburbs of Kinshasa. It’s quite difficult to get to from town, because of the dreadful roads and traffic. It takes a while. The professors lived relatively close to the university. The thing that surprised me about the area, was the amount of street food. There was much less than I was expecting, which actually made it quite difficult for me to eat. But there were a few key things I could usually get: a bread stick; and an omelette, cooked by an egg seller.
I was quite surprised by the shape of the bread sticks they sold in Kinshasa. Although it was French style bread, and very nice (though sometimes a little dry), the ends of the bread sticks were pointy. I’d not seen bread like this before. I didn’t see it again outside of Congo either, until today. I was pleasantly surprised to see a bag of ‘French Rolls’ for sale at my local store. I hadn’t had any bread for a fortnight, so I couldn’t resist buying them to relive my Kinshasa breakfasts.
The egg sellers would carry more than a dozen cardboard egg trays on their heads. Sometimes they would sell them hard boiled with spicy salt for you to dip them in. Sometimes they would sell them raw, and sometimes, they’d have a little burner and pan to quickly cook them into an omelette for you. I really liked it when they’d have a stash of onions to slice up and cook before adding the egg to the pan. The onions in Congo were very mild. I never saw butter in Kinshasa. (I didn’t go anywhere fancy though). They most often used this dreadful margarine called BluBand, which didn’t melt in the hot Kinshasa weather. I wouldn’t go near the stuff, but it was nutritionally supplemented, so it was probably not a bad option for some people. The egg sellers would only use oil for cooking.
I’ve made my own version of this simple meal, by slowly caramelising the onions in the vegetable oil, then quickly cooking them into an omelette and serving it in a freshly buttered French Roll. It’s not exactly quick, but it’s a lovely simple breakfast inspired by those I had in Kinshasa, affectionately called ‘Kin’ by those that love her.
|1-2||eggs, lightly beaten|
|1||French Roll, buttered|
|1||pinch||paprika, or other chilli powder|
Place the onion and oil in a covered frying pan and cook very gently, for about 30 minutes.
Salt to taste and add your beaten egg so it is spread thinly across the pan.
As the outside of the egg cooks, lift it gently, allowing the runny egg to move to the hotter parts of the pan.
When it’s cooked through, tip the omelette from the pan and arrange in your buttered roll.
Sprinkle with paprika or chilli powder.