Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kenyan Culinary School

We headed into Meru this weekend to stay with Mama Jen for a few nights and to get out of the compound after almost 2 weeks being cooped up in here. We spent the entire weekend learning to cook Kenyan dishes, and washing them down with Tusker Barridi. Friday night we made Beef Stew, rice and sukuma and then headed straight to bed. The power went out in the house so we were cooking by lantern light. Thank goodness for gas stoves!

On Saturday, we slept in and learned how to make Kenyan pancakes for breakfast, which are one of my favorites. They are basically a hybrid between crepes and American pancakes, but with a little sugar and cinnemon, or a little sugar and fresh squeezed lime juice they are to die for. While running errands in the morning, we met Jen's friend Justice. Justice might be the most hilarious Kenyan man I have ever met. While Jen was buying cement for a construction project, he took us next door the the Farmer's Bar for a cold Tusker. He had been to Toronto a few years ago on a business trip and was telling us all about climbing to the top of the CN Tower, riding in The Maid if The Mist in Niagara Falls and a horrifying but very drunk trip to a downtown disco. It was only about noon, so we taught him the phrase "It's 5 O'Clock somewhere!" which he found absolutely fabulous and repeated to every single person numerous times for the rest of the morning. He tried to use it as an excuse to buy us more beer but we politely declined. We headed to the Meru Sports Club for lunch with Jen and another Tusker and spent the afternoon sitting in the sun and enjoying fabulous conversation. Saturday night we made Chapati for dinner and ate the leftover rice and beef stew. Jen makes her Chapatis very different than our cook Silas. We like Silas's better but it's always good to learn multiple ways. Jen's were less oily and less flaky and more like a flat bread.

Sunday we went to a church fundraiser with Jen and Martin. Jen's chirch is raising money to build a roof on their new building so they had an auction. All the members of the church brought donations which were then auctioned off with the proceeds going to the church. It was sooo fun! The auction items were all produce or live chickens or roosters so we bought tons and tons of carrots and cabbage and bananas and 2 chickens. We named them Eric and Francisca and they are now running around the compound for the next few weeks until we get hungry. We also bought a whole bunch of stuff for random members. We bought one lady a chicken, one lady some plantains, a little girl some Uji flour (with sorghum and finger millet mixed in with the maize flour!) and some bananas for a bunch of people. My all time favorite purchase was HONEY!!!! The other girls all burst out laughing as soon as it was for sale because my face lit right up with excitement. It's a little waxy but I'm going to read my text book and strain it later this week.

Although we learned to make about 5 different dishes this weekend, they were all essentially the same. Kenyan Culinary School in a nut shell is: flour, salt, sugar, oil, warm water. Make into a dough and fry in copious amounts of fat. The more fat, the better it will taste.

I also learned today that Silas, our cook, is actually named Cyrus. We have been calling him Silas for weeks now and no one said anything to us. Kenyans say Rs like Ls and so I think although we are saying Silas, it really just sounds like the Kenyan pronunciation of Cyrus.

The chickens are curled up together in a laundry bin all cozy in an old towel. They look soo cute...but very delicious. We're going to chase them around the compound for the next few weeks to build up their thighs.

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