The displaced of Sudan, due to both decades of civil war and natural disasters, are disproportionately female and many are responsible for dependents. For those settling in the capital, Khartoum, their livelihood depends on carving out ways to earn money in an urban area that is experiencing tremendous growth from the millions of recent arrivals. When confronted with the immediate need to provide for their families, women turn to a skill universally expected of them: cooking.
Therefore, Khartoum is home to a thriving micro-economy of food vendors. By selling these dishes in the capital, they broaden the culinary horizons of the city while preserving their own food traditions. Their growing numbers provide an opportunity for regional foodways to gain wider introduction, adaptation, and, finally, adoption.
These same vendors also facilitate a nascent sense of a shared Sudanese identity and nationalism. For established Khartoum urbanites, the definition of Sudanese food (and, by extension, what it means to be Sudanese) expands as street-vendor fare moves to restaurants and becomes more widely available throughout the city. As urban Sudanese overcome their preconceptions and discover a taste for regional cuisines, meals function as unofficial diplomacy during this turbulent time in Sudan's history.