Sunday, 3 August 2014

Kenyan food talk

I was extremely sick on August 1st for the 1st time in my life.  I vomited everything in my stomach, and had a severe diarrhea at the same time.  It is a horrible feeling when you can feel it coming from both ends.   I felt so cold I had to take my down jacket out.  I vomited till 4 am and managed to keep some fluids in after drinking a Stoney’s (Stoney’s is a strong ginger soda). 

Tanzania's Stoney Tangawizi.  The ones in Kenya normally come in 500mL.  The Tanzania Stoney has some sort of weird spices in it.  I prefer the Kenyan one. 

When you’re sick, it really makes you want to go home.  Forget everything that’s happening here but just wish to be in your comfortable bed with loved ones around you.  Sadly, or stubbornly, I couldn’t get myself to contact anyone back at home… I tear up a little in my bed thinking how sad it is to not have anyone to contact, not because I don’t have friends, but because I didn’t want to worry them.  I think I am just too stubborn for my own good.

Today is the second last day in the community.  I honestly don’t know how to feel. It feels numb and confusing.  Am I really going home? I am going to be in Vancouver in 9 days.  When I am back, the whole trip is going to seem like a dream… I am hoping to keep in touch with the people on the ground and hopefully, I can make it back to Kenya soon enough. 

Now I am going to talk about Kenyan food.  It may seem like a weird transition from vomiting and diarrhea but welcome to a health science student’s world.  When I first arrived, we only ate beans (oganda), or green grams, cabbage or kale (skumaweeki) and rice or chapati.  Very limited.  When my other 2 team members Lily and Esha arrived, we started buying more spices such as cumin, etc.  Mama Siprose who cooks for us, knows how to cook but she’s been cooking the same thing due to lack of ingredients we’ve been purchasing.  When she started cooking with spices, food tasted a lot better. We also bought a whole chicken from the Nakumat and… seriously, she will make you the best chicken dish you’ve ever had with a ton of flavours.  We’ve been avoiding meat as much as we could because we heard from previous teams that it made them sick.  But damn, we’ve been missing out. Kenyan meat dishes are always the best other than the fact that they overcook the meat all the time but the stew that it comes in taste heavenly.  Dip some chapati or ugali in it and it is om nom nom.  We haven’t tried the fish even though we live right by Lake Victoria. The lake is contaminated with schistosomiasis and we were told not to eat fish if we can help it.  I would like to try a tilapia though.  They deep fry it to the point it is crisp so I am certain that it will kill all the parasites but we haven’t been adventurous enough. 

Kenyans eat this thing called ugali. It is made from maize flour and it actually taste like nothing.. but it is their staple food because it will keep you full.  You take a chunk of it and roll it around in your hand so it stays intact and  then you scoop some cabbage, meat or kale with and then eat it.  I am not a huge fan of ugali but I will eat it if it is offered. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it but it looks like mashed potatoes. 

Of course, fruits were essential throughout our stay. Avocados, bananas, apple mangoes, mangoes, pineapples, tangerines, and papayas (which I don't like).  We also tried passion fruit and some other odd fruits (I can't recall the names). 

Papayas, tangerines and pineapples. 

Trying to be African

My favourite is chapati.  

I’ve never been a rice person. I always prefer bread/ noodle over rice. Surprise, surprise from an Asian person, eh?  Chapatti is a thick crepe, or like a roti.  It doesn’t have much flavour by itself but I’ve eaten it plain before.  It is simply made from white flour, salt, sugar and water. I am going to miss chapati despite its simplicity.  Maybe I’ll try to make some at home and eat it with a curry. There is also mandazi which is type of a dessert.  It is comparable to a donut but it's definitely not as sweet.  I love dipping mandazi in a sugar/ cinnamon mixture. It's delicious.  

 Mama Siprose, making chapati



Bite size mandazi. The ones you buy in the markets are bigger.

I’ve never really bought kale back at home because it is so expensive but a bag of kale costs 30 KSHs here which is approximately 27 cents. The word skumaweeki means it will last a week.  This is true because we eat it throughout the week and that’s probably the reason why the travelers got so sick and tired of it.  The kale tastes different here and I can’t really decide if I like it or not.  I preferred cabbage over the kale.  Mama cooks both of them with some onions, tomatoes and royco’s spices. 

We also ate out time to time.  We had Ethiopian food and it was heavenly.  I had Ethiopian food in Montreal once and I remembered to be extremely delicious.  We had to travel far within Kisumu to find this restaurant but it was definitely worth it. 

Free meal at the Sikh temple. That ball made of sugar will cause diabetes. I swear.

 This was at Maurice's wedding. 

We also cooked time to time just to give it some variety.

Pasta and quiche

I am going to be cooking red thai chicken curry as our good bye dinner today. Good byes are never fun…


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