Riding from the far east of Gabon to Libreville on the coast takes a few days and while there are some good wild camping spots and cheap hotels on the way, I decided to treat myself one night to a stay at a game lodge. It was one of those places that fly-in tourists get whisked to from the airport without having to deal with the inconveniences of actually experiencing Africa (Much like what I did in India, so I’ll just shutup now…).
Once I arrived I was able to relax on the little patio of my cabin with a wonderful sunset.
The next morning I took a swim in the river from the white sand beach just below the cabins.
So, with the great views, decent cabin, and friendly staff- what were they doing wrong? It’s actually a problem throughout much of tourist Africa- the food. Instead of highlighting local produce and dishes, perhaps toned down a bit in spice level, they try and make western dishes. The results are usually disastrous. The evening I was there my choice was between fish or chicken drowned in mushroom sauce- yes, the kind you make with condensed soup, and no you couldn’t have it without sauce. The starter/side/desert was the same- beans and boiled egg with mayo to start, canned beans with carrots, and condensed milk cooked to make crème brûlée. All and all a truly terrible meal, but hardly worthy of a post… Until you add the smell of good cooking coming the kitchen. The smell of the staff dinners being prepared. Staff dinners made with cheap, fresh local produce by people who know how to prepare it.
So, even though I don’t have to experience it much, please consider this my plea to all hotels, restaurants, and anyone who provides food to tourists- give us a taste of local food. Even just creating dishes from local produce would be great. Please, I beg you.