Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Anything and Hot Sauce

If there is anything I miss about the United States it would be the food. The girls at the school subsist on a diet consisting of a base like rice, noodles or ugali. Topped with beans, lentils, maize, cabbage, spinach or potatoes.

The cooks here do a fine job, and actually all of the dishes taste pretty good. The first week I was very happy with each meal. The issue for me is the repetition: the same things are cooked every day and night of the week. There are maybe 4 different meals that are alternated for fourteen meals of lunch and dinner in a week. All of which I take with a large portion of Hot Sauce, in some cases to add to the flavor, in other cases to wash it down while avoiding the flavor.

The biggest personal offender to me is Ugali. It is simply a cooked-up, edible version of flour. It is the consistency of play-doh, odorless, tasteless, and somehow still manages to completely disgust me. It is one of the staples of life here in Kenya and many people eat it for every meal. Thursday and Friday nights are Ugali nights and anyone who is capable of avoiding these meals usually does.

The major factor in my Kenyan diet that I find noticeably lacking is MEAT. We get meat once a week and it is usually goat meat mixed with rice. It is actually pretty tasty if one does not mind picking the bones out of the rice yourself. The one day we had chicken I think you could almost literally find every part of the chicken mixed into the rice, as it turns out a rather small percentage of the chicken is actually meat.

At issue here is a basic cultural difference. In Kenya eating is not for fun, it is for survival. The people who get ugali everyday are among the lucky ones. I dont know anyone from the states who goes to the grocery store and buys themselves a bag of flour as the main component of their meal. In America I eat things that I think taste good, otherwise I don’t eat. I have become addicted to fatty, fried, artificial flavors that are probably terrible for me. I mean really addicted…to the point where I am going through withdrawals. I sat in bed last night imagining Fajitas from Pancho Villa’s in Fairfax, burritos from the gourmet burrito place in LaFayette, Sushi from Tengu in Westwood, Tacos from Jack In The Box, Any Chinese food.

I have cravings for things I have never thought about in my life. Last week there was a day or two when all I could think about was an Orange Julius. I dont really know what an orange Julius is but I imagine it to be an ice cold frothy orange beverage. Actually I still really want one.

I honestly think that if the homeless shelters in the states served ugali no one would show up.
(pictures soon to come)


  1. If I were to come to Kenya, I would pack you a spicy chicken burrito from Fairfax and an Orange Julius to wash it down! By the way - I too have often had longing thoughts of Orange Julius' with no satisfactory explanation of why. I think I have had a total of 5 Julius' in my life (all of which were consumed during a youthful "mall-hopping" stage at Northgate Mall). Yet the orange creaminess lingers in my memory. Do the stands even exist any more? I don't think so. Maybe somewhere in Kansas they are just getting their first Orange Julius stand. Those lucky bastards!

    I miss you!

  2. Matt, being a Kenyan expat living in the States, your post is hilarious to me. Ugali is an awesome dish - its essentially a caked up version of grits. Anyways, thanks for the good laugh.