Extremely Interesting other Pages

Thursday, November 17, 2011


There are two types of African travelers in this world - those that go out and seek to experience all things local  as a lifestyle and those that go out but still seek to remain in their comfort zone as much as possible. We are talking about the difference between that expat you know that loves to talk about eating local porridge (ugali) and boiled collard greens (sukuma) for every meal and riding around in matatus for transportation and the other expat that arrives and immediately, finds friends from their country and goes on wild goose hunts for supplies to make chocolate chip cookies, nachos and strawberry daiquiris.  As much as I hate to admit it, I lean more towards the second group - though I swear I venture out of my bubble plenty. And I think really we are just talking about food here for me.  I've just never been turned on by the Kenyan cuisine - I'm fine with the Indian food, which comes in second for local cuisine - In fact, I am a huge Indian food fan now after moving here. (For readers that have never been to Kenya, Nairobi's largest minority are Indians - and there are tons of Indian restaurants here). But the Kenyan food really keeps me from being that immersed expat. Now, if I lived in Italy or Lebanon, I wouldn't have this issue. I mean, there is a reason that you don't find Kenyan restaurants everywhere you go - just saying. 

Typical Kenyan food - Photo is my co-workers lunch. Sukuma, potatos, Ugali (white mushy starch), and rice with some veggies. Ladies sort of travel around from office to office selling lunches to people. This whole thing costs like $2. Very hearty food that keeps you full all day, which definitely has a historical and cultural context to it. The majority of the population that lives way below poverty level might get one meal a day and they would most likely not be eating this variety. It would maybe be just the ugali (white starchy stuff)  and some greens or chapati - every single day.

Now, this is one of the ugliest food pictures ever - BUT, it is one of my all time favorite things to have here. Tandoori Chicken Tikka Boneless and Naan - forget about the fries..they are actually gross here. But the chicken tikka - oh it's heaven. I eat it at least once or twice a week. People that are truly into indian cuisine laugh at me because it's sort of like going to a thai restaurant and ordering Pad Thai..but for me, it's delish. I dont like all the saucy curry stuff - my stomach is always pissed off afterwards..but this dry grilled chicken is AMAZING! With the yogurt sauce..mmmmmm.
Oh just wanted to mention another cuisine that we have eaten here a few times that people LOVE - but for me is only good for the first 10 minutes till you get sick of the Injera - ETHIOPIAN food. Honestly, I like it for about 7-10 minutes and then that bread (looks like a washcloth all rolled up) starts to get to me and I just want a spoon to eat the rest of my meal with. I made the  mistake of joining some friends for Ethiopian food 2 nights before my half marathon - DONT EVER DO THAT! Without fail, you will get some weird ass bacteria from everyone's hands being in everyone's food!
Aw, the poor thing has no idea what's comin to him.
See the little wash cloths of bread? They should coat them with antiseptic. But very fun night - it was worth it ;-)

So,  understanding the mental context that I'm functioning from here - and my longing for good old American comfort food -  I have the weirdest cravings for things from home and much of it is stuff that I wouldn't even eat at home..like for example..Bear Claws! You know those giant donuts; they're like big giant knots of doughy cinnamon and glaze..i don't even know what they are..and I haven't had one in maybe 20 years..but I want one now. Or like, KFC! I do not eat KFC at home. I cannot remember the last time I ate at KFC, but one opened here recently - the first American fast food restaurant in Kenya, and it's all I could think about until it opened. So silly.

My family is coming to visit me for Thanksgiving and the list of stuff that I gave them to bring me is just asinine! Here's what I included - okay some are staples for me and some are wild cards and it's weird!

dried cranberries (eh -definitely a luxury item and could easily live without this)
walnuts/pine nuts (too expensive in nairobi)
turkey peporoni (WHAT??)
blow pops (redic)
nacho cheese in a jar (WHAT?)
Velveeta (Wild Card)
choc chips ( never buy these at home - why now Lenna?)
crystal light (fine)
protein powder (understandable)
low fat peanut butter
low fat brownie mix, cookies, anytthing! (??? -more stuff I never buy at home)
whitening tooth paste
taco bell mild sauce packets (staple for me and definitely a necessity. I make my own taco bell)
coffee creamer - low fat vanilla
montreal steak seasoning
Pudding mix (psycho! since when do I make pudding?)

But I will tell you - it's a ton of fun when you get visitors and they bring you a bunch of stuff - it's like having Target delivered to your house - Here's what it looked like when Sergio got home from a work trip to Haiti where he had to stop through NYC on the way back - He bought us tons of treats from the Target by JFK airport - it was like Christmas Morning!
Some of the things Sergio brought me back from the states: a lunch box, lotion, relish, vitamins, craisens, deodorant, reeses pieces, gym clothes, propel powder, splenda (stolen from starbucks), peanut butter powder, tuna packets, and a ladies fashion magazine - oh he also brought me TURKEY BACON!! I threw it in the freezer as soon as he walked in.
To be fair - we are super lucky to live in Nairobi. There are a TON of options here for eating out. You can find anything you want and the restaurants are normally run from people from that country so it's always pretty authentic and delicious - BUT THERE IS NO MEXICAN FOOD and there really is no good junky American food - you know like a good burger and fries or really good deep dish pizza, no chipotle burritos, no bagel joints, no place to get a good sandwich, no good pancake houses - nothing like that -  so I think that is where my cravings come in - for the junk!
Anyways, so if you are coming to visit - (and you really should visit) - BRING JUNK IN YOUR TRUNK!


No comments:

Post a Comment

So..what do you have to say about all this?