We were walking through Kabalagalla, towards the Chinese restaurant. Ahh, even in Kampala you can get Chinese food! We were close when my girlfriend said “Hey, look, nsenene!” Pronounced “en-sen-en-ay”, it is Luganda for “fried grasshopper.” So we stopped and bought a small paper sack, about two large handfuls worth. We munched on our crunchy grasshoppers as we walked towards the restaurant.
I’ve eaten the nsenenay before. Someone once told me they taste similar to shrimp, but I’m sad to say that has not been my experience. I would say they taste like…oily, fried bugs. But almost anything tastes good fried, so I do eat them when they are available.
My date had never eaten Chinese food before. Like most Ugandans, she was a bit fearful of trying totally different food:
“I hear the Chinese eat snakes and frogs.” She said, as a grasshopper leg dangled lazily from the corner of her luscious lips. I looked at her with mild shock for just a moment, then responded with my western logic:
“We are eating fried bugs.”
“no, we’re eating nsenene!” she replied indignantly.
“come on, they’re bugs! They’re grasshoppers!”
She did not believe me. Our Chinese waitress walked past, and I asked her, “excuse me, but do you eat these bugs?”, pointing to our dwindling supply of nsenene.
“oh, no, I no eat those.” She replied in a thick accent.
I had hoped to make the point that different cultures do different things. That point seems obvious to me, with me being from the states and her being Ugandan. She didn’t care about any of that, she was just happy that the menu didn’t list frogs or snakes. She did enjoy the hot and sour soup, sweet and sour pork, and all the other delicacies that the Chinese manage to make here in Uganda.