Man making sugar cane juice with a big machine, Mombasa, Kenya (2012-05)

Got juice? (Food and drink in Africa, pt. 6)


Tropical Africa is full of exotic fruits. So the idea of serving fresh fruit juice to me was fairly obvious. But there were only a few places where I got juices. Often people were intrigued when we suggested making juice (and selling it to tourists…). Cooling might have been an issue. But then again: you can get cold coke everywhere…

The greatest choice of juice I found in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. Surprising, isn’t it? Considering that the area is closer to the Sahara than the tropic rainforests. On the street in Khartoum 2, where we stayed, there were some juice places, selling anything from simple mango juices to strawberry, water melon or my favorite: lemon-mint. Quite a treat on any blazing hot July day!

Northern Ethiopia is a close second to Khartoum when it comes to juices. On offer are usually mango, paw-paw (papaya) and avocado as well as a fruit juice mix called sprits. All of the juices are of a rather thick, smoothie-like consistency. So the sprits comes in beautiful layers. I had had avocado juice before at Amadine’s in Bamako, Mali. But along Ethiopia’s Northern circuit it’s sold virtually everywhere, and for about 50 to 75 cents rather cheaply. Tip: Usually they’ll add sugar to the avocado juice without asking. I find it better with sugar, but if you get a chance, you should at least once try it without.

Talking about sugar: In Africa, you’ll see kids (and grown-ups) all over chewing on sugar cane. I tried and didn’t like it as I constantly found myself spitting and picking fibers from my teeth. Sugar cane juice on the other hand…  Miwa juci! If you’ve had it, you know what I’m talking about. It’s not as widely available as you would think considering the spread of sugar cane. So get it when you can. Miwa juci is not sweet but rather refreshing. Some vendors will add ginger and lemon juice. In any case: it is made fresh and cooled with ice. Click on the links to see where I found it in Kigoma, Dar es Salaam, Stone Town, Mombasa, Luxor – or add your own sugar cane place to the map.

But there are also refreshing and filling drinks that aren’t juices:

In South Africa and Zimbabwe, I used to buy a maize breakfast drink from the supermarket called amahewu. It’s available flavored or natural and a filling snack to have in your backpack.

As mentioned above: Sudan is hot; even hotter in the summer. Yogurt for some reason helps to cool down. Mish is (a drinkable) savory yogurt with spices that you can buy virtually anywhere. Add some bread and lunch is served.

Next, I’ll talk a bit about tea, and coffee in Africa, before getting into alcohol on New Year’s Eve.

Do you have anything to add? Thoughts? Opinions? Let me know!

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