In 2004, Niyonshuti Bruno was a teenager with no intentions of ever becoming or even learning culinary until he linked up with a friend who was working as a chef at a restaurant.
His friend Ndaruhutse Jean d’Amour, told him that he was earning a handsome salary as chef at a 3-star Novotel hotel. Niyonshuti felt this was a profession worth pursuing and be like his pal.
Niyonshuti told his parents about this new found interest. However, he says they were not supportive because they wanted him to study Electronic engineering.
When Niyonshuti was give tuition for an electronics course, he instead diverted it to pay fees for a hotel catering course. He has since graduated and is currently employed as chef at la difference restaurant.
“When I am preparing something for example pizza, I keep asking myself how I could decorate it. Something different from the usual,” he told Taarifa, adding that this job pushes his creativity and innovation to limits.
According to Niyonshuti, ever since he started working as chef, he noticed that clients mostly request for French fries (chips).
“When clients are told that chips are finished, they go back without asking for something else even when there is a buffet, no chips no clients,” says Niyonshuti.
For Niyonshuti, chips are a daily delicacy on the list of foods prepared at the hotel.
He told Taarifa that almost 150kg of irish potatoes are peeled to prepare chips. This also consumes 10litres of cooking oil.
Since chips and mayonnaise are concurrently consumed, 4 bottles of mayonnaise used daily.
Work can be tense at the kitchen especially ensuring that clients get their favourite dishes – but the chips are the most consumed of all foods. In comparison, only 40kg of bananas are prepared daily.
The restaurant he works for receives between 150 hundred and 200 clients per day.
Most of people who consume chips also order for mayonnaise and tomato sauce. Sometimes clients are discouraged when they are informed that chips are over and go somewhere else.
Alphonse Kamugisha a regular client at la difference restaurant told Taarifa that he can’t resist chips and eats them every day.
“They [chips] taste good you can’t feel that you are done with them, you eat and eat them and you may just take something else like rice just to feel that you are okay,” says Kamugisha.
Ntawukuriryayo Jackson is a motor taxi operator earning between Rwf4000 and Rwf 5000 on a good day when he serves many customers. After a good days job, Ntawukuriryayo walks into a restaurant and orders for chips.
“I feel good while eating chips. When I earn much money I really prefer to prepare chips for myself,” said Ntawukuriryayo.
French fries are preferred by many people including children and adults
Many children say that they like plain chips and just add mayonnaise or tomato sauce, and could even eat them 3 times a day.
People from rural countryside consider chips as a food for elite people because of the cost of preparing.
However, different nutritionists highlight consequences that follow the high consumption of cooking oil.
“We all know that when we eat a good meal it is when we prepare chips, we all like them but we cannot ignore how much it is unsafe to consume them repeatedly,” Harerimana Jacqueline a nutritionist at Kacyiru Police Hospital told Taarifa.
She adds that for example restaurants don’t care about health issues resulting from reusing cooking oil more than twice, “it is too dangerous.”
Harerimana adds that people should be aware of the type of cooking oil they. She suggests that there should be mobilisation to make people aware of healthy diet.
“We don’t always have to put cooking oil in every meal we cook to make it tasty. Even though oil would make it delicious,” said Harerimana.
According to a doctor in the Rwanda Defence Forces, “The veins are like pipes and when the cooking oil is stored in its walls the blood does not pass normally.Because the quantity of blood remains the same but the path narrows. This pushes the heart to beat quicker to force blood through the narrowed path in veins which results in a condition called hypertension.”
This doctor advises that peeling Irish potatoes decreases their nutritious quality – what about frying them in boiling oil? He wonders.
Alex Mucumbitsi a Government’s expert in nutrition supports that cooking oil consumption is not bad as such because it is important for a human life. It increases energy but it is so dangerous when you don’t consume it in moderate amounts.
“Actually cooking oil is important to humans but it is dangerous to consume it in an inconvenient way. When you prepare chips for instance more than twice using same cooking oil it intoxicates,” Mucumbitsi told Taarifa.
Mucumbitsi emphases on using cooking oil in a modest way otherwise many diseases will affect people such as cancer, diabetes and so many others.
“The fact that chips are prepared with cooking oil already used many times; there are chemical products that poison life. Restaurants they use cooking oil many times. It would be better if they change it”
Mucumbitsi advices people to moderate the cooking oil consumption preparing well their meals without putting it in each type of food because its consumption will be exaggerated.
Dr. Ntaganda Evariste a staff at Rwanda Biomedical Centre recommends Rwandans to prevent unhealthy food that many people call top class which are destroying people’s lives.
“People like to go out to bars and restaurants and order chips, meat with lots of cooking oil and uncooked salt they put and drink more than 3 beers it’s suicidal,” Dr. Ntaganda warns.
He advises people to check up the status of their health without waiting to fall sick and know how to take care of themselves or starting treatment if needed.
He says that many people are suffering from disease related to the high consumption of cooking oil such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. He says that Diabetes and Hypertension account for most deaths among Rwandans.
Dr Ntaganda alerts people to do something urgently because the prevalence of cases are highly increased, diabetes on 3% and 15.9 for hypertension.