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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rolex is proudly Ugandan

UGANDAN FAST-FOOD: In Uganda rolex, doesn't refer to the prestigious Swiss chronometer. It is simply a chapatti with omelette, tomatoes and cabbage rolled into it, and it's a popular delicacy.

Every single evening, when the sun has dipped low, hordes of people outmanoeuvre the congested streets and pay call to trusted rolex makers around the city. The rolex is a fast-food delicacy made out of fried eggs, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, green pepper and rolled in a chapatti; ingredients that make it tastier and most fulfilling.

How it came to be called so remains a mystery. Dennis Mulindwa, a rolex maker in Kibuuli connects the name to the fact that a rolex is rolled, adding that the 'ex' must surely refer to the extra health derived from eating this delicious sandwich.

But Daniel Byamugisha who 'holds the trophy for the number one rolex eater around town' reasons that whoever came up with the name wanted something as attractive as a Rolex watch.

"If you are wearing a Rolex, then you know you are wearing something prestigious," he says. "The Rolex watch is special because it's made out of the finest materials, to withstand time. In the same way, the rolex contains golden ingredients with basic food nutrients that give whoever tastes it bull power."

The science behind the rolex
Almost three years ago, on the maiden day I was acquainted with the rolex, I was completely impressed by the way it was made. With one nimble movement, the maker would flick the mixed ingredients over in the shallow pan on a hot sigiri and keep nibbling at the round edges with his big spoon, as the finished product began to take shape. He would then drop the ready rolex in its kaveera without ever touching it.

Today, every Tom, Dick, Musiramu and Mulokole have killed the spark in rolex making. Apart from using too much oil, they seem to like the loathsome habit of touching the rolex with their bare hands while making and packing it. Surely, it does not take a mathematician to estimate the number of times one shakes other people's hands. Or the many times one pulls out his 'thing' to pee. Still, how many people wash their hands after visiting the toilet? To think of a rolex maker fondling your rolex with his hands is most revolting.

Nevertheless, there are still ingenuous rolex makers whose science while making the rolex incites the clients' desire to maul the roll with feeling. To prepare a rolex, cabbage, tomatoes, beaten eggs, green pepper, a little salt and onions chopped in their finery are used. The 'chef' puts the contents into an empty container (nice plastic cups are mostly used) and stirs deeply with a spoon before pouring the contents in the hot shallow pan. He keeps turning it up and down -a minute or three and the delicious recipe will be ready. It is then rolled into a chapatti, mostly with hands or a spoon, depending on the expertise of the maker and finally dropped in kaveera ready to be chewed steaming hot.

Sometimes, improper ingredients and excess oil cause stomach complications, and of course the dirty, sometimes dusty roadside spots where the rolex is made have compromised the taste of this culinary masterpiece.

Although the rolex remains a superior source of protein and all other food nutrients as it is a mixture of various ingredients, it is also a source of unbridled fat and cholesterol, both of which are found in the yolk, and the oils dabbed all over the chapattis. Few people have misgivings on the way the rolex is prepared, but the majority don't really care. One such is Ibanda, who says that the rolex is not for the faint of heart.

"Every dirty thing can make you a rolex but you have to be a man who lives by faith. Even your mama can be dirty, so you only have to get it into your mind that the rolex is great for your body and nothing can happen to you," he articulates.

Jared Ombui, a university student, however wants health authorities to intervene and throw out dirty rolex dealers.

"My buddies have complained about running stomachs after eating the rolex," he says.

But Ivan Wolusobozi laughs at Ombui's spite towards rolex makers: "I've eaten rolex for three years now. I've never died. I don't even have cholesterol," he laughs. "It's okay as long as you eat it hot. And if it is cold, eat it with chai -hot chai and germs will die before they make you sick."

Many faces
The juicy rolex was born in 2000. Sula (that's the only name you will get), is considered the father of the rolex. Accordingly, he established his first rolex-making centre behind Wandegeya mosque. At the time, this speciality merely contained a pair of fried eggs rolled in chapatti. Five years down the bend and rolex makers have masterminded the science of making a variety, leading to unique rolex makes named after the Titanic and Millennium, to mention a few.

The Titanic rolex is very popular among the 'loaded.' An embodiment of sausage, five eggs, chap, three chapattis and the usual bigendelako such as tomatoes, onions, green pepper, and cabbage, this rolex costs Shs3000. Those who have heard the story of the Titanic ship that sunk in 1912 on her voyage to New York relish this rolex, perhaps it reminds them of the sad, fascinating movie shot in rememberence of the unlucky ship.

As for the Millennium rolex, it is said that at the click of 2000, some bright babe strolled down to Wandegeya and asked Sula to make her a special rolex to celebrate the millennium. Well, the name stuck. The millennium rolex is a combination of minced meat, three eggs, a sausage, two chapattis, an omelette and the spices. It also has symbolic overtone; that it is said to be as mouth-watering as the vegetables prepared at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, the 2005 award winning vegetarian hotel. This rolex costs Shs2,500.
This brings us to the Super Millennium rolex. This is a mixture of five eggs, two chapattis, beef, a chap, and it goes for a whooping Shs4,000. It is the most expensive rolex, which Furugensio Kintu, a rolex maker, says is a favourite for MP Guma Gumisiriza and local singer Mesach Ssemakula.

In tow is the Beef rolex. As the name suggests, it is mostly made from beef and two chapattis and it is a bit cheaper, going for Shs1200. Not forgetting Super rolex -three eggs, and two chapattis at Shs1000. Others include Mixed Burger rolex that consists of a chap, onion slices, three eggs and two chapattis to cost Shs1500.

There is Double Face, also known as Double Remix rolex, which combines two eggs, minced meat, salads and a chapatti and is sold at Shs1000. You just have to make your pick depending on the weight of your pocket. With a fat wallet, you take home a fat rolex.

Notably, as Moses Ibanda, an Internet café operator in Wandegeya says, 'the rolex is but the quintessential meal and the simultaneous source of our greatest strength.'

Boundless love
Only about three out of some many people interviewed didn't like the taste of a rolex. Julius Mutabazi, a university student, wonders what the rolex excitement is all about.

"I got prompted to buy a rolex after I heard too much talk glorifying it. To my disappointment, I never found it as delicious as it is depicted to be. I've never bought another. I don't know why my colleagues are deeply intimate with it honestly," he says.

"My love for the rolex is boundless," says Ms Alice Busingye of Stanbic Bank. "It's tasty and highly satisfying."

"The rolex is trendy," quips Martin Tarengwa. "It has surpassed chips and chaps. It's the thing to go for."

Renee Mc (Richard Tumukunde), a gospel hip-hop artiste, and radio presenter on Campus FM commends the rolex for his great voice. "You can hear my voice. I don't do vocals 'cause the rollex makes it for me. I spit lyrics, 'cause I got a rolex, know what I'm sayin... been eating rolex from day one," he enthuses. "When I'm bankrupt and don't go to ma swank hotel, I hit the rolex joint, I love the rolex man."

Interestingly, booze lovers believe that eating a rolex before and after a drunken spree is a remedy for the hangover. "From Silk," says James Walubi, "We make a stop at Wandegeya, grab a rolex and let it chill off all the hangover."

He adds that the rolex doesn't stress: "You don't need a plate to chew a rolex; you don't even need tomato sauce. All you need is to grab your thing and let it down."

Such views remind one of Steve Elbert who equated fast foods (the rolex inclusive conceivably) to "pornography, nutritionally speaking."

It’s a man's world
Most intriguing is that this business is completely a man's affair. From Wandegeya to Kalerwe and other hubs for the booming lucrative rolex, you will rarely find a woman frying a rolex. Why?

"I think Ugandan women are more enlightened," argues Ms Nancy Adega a Kenyan. She reflects and states that in her country, it's women who cook across the roads, not men. Ugandan men tend to do mediocre jobs while the women seem to aim much higher and maybe they don't think getting into the rolex business is the way to go."

"This is a man's business. It's like a franchise. Women do the kikumi-kikumi, men do the rolex. It's kind of a silent agreement they have -an unwritten law," observes Obadiah Taremwa, a young business man in Wandegeya.

Could it be that most guys act like hooligans and could therefore bully women into giving them a free rolex? Maybe the business is difficult and no husband will accept that his woman be away up to midnight in the name of rolex making!

Whatever the case, Olivia does not agree that the best chefs in the world are men insisting: "It's just that women haven't woken up. Our city hasn't tasted the best rolex until women join the business."

Buckets of bucks
One cannot deny that the lads are minting buckets of bucks selling the rolex. Kintu, one of the rolex makers says life has been much better for him since he joined the business. On a good night, he retires with Shs40,000 in profits.

"We get big profits but experience losses sometimes," says Farouk Mutakaya, an employee at Sula's Rolex near Lumumba hall.

Accordingly, the business gets a boost when they are hired to fry rolexes for guests at weddings and graduation functions. Sometimes, they make rolexes for builders at construction sites. One man who has reaped lots from the business is Sula who is considering opening a school that might train those interested in learning how to make the fast meal.

Though there is fear that urbanites are "becoming culinary nitwits, dependent upon fast foods and mass kitchens and megavitamins for our basically rotten nourishment," as exactly put by famous food writer M.F.K. Fisher, should Sula's rolex school opens, we might end up getting professional rolex chefs to emulate Heston Blumenthal, the world's best chef since April 2005!

Published in Daily Monitor, Friday, August 23, 2007