Kenyan Dinner and a Day Out

Hello everybody!  Whitney here.

First, thanks to all of you who have been praying for Romano.  We have good news to report!  He is recovering well, and Scott said he actually was transferred out of the ICU today, which is a step toward leaving the hospital.  Praise God!

Life moves so quickly!  It is hard to blog about everything and do it all justice.  Below is my brief attempt to fill you in on a few of our recent happenings!

Last Friday evening we were invited to Pete and Lisa Kuyaya’s house for a Kenyan dinner (they are Kenya natives).  They are two of the nicest people I think I’ve ever met!  On Wednesday of last week Scott and I were attempting to squeeze a quick walk in before it got dark at 7:00PM.  On our way, we were admiring a home with beautiful flowers growing all around it.  As we stood there, Lisa, the Volunteer Staff Coordinator at Tenwek, came down the dirt road and greeted us and we realized that this was her home.  We complimented her on the flowers and she laughed and joked and said their were more plants inside the house.

Some of Lisa’s flowers

Or at least I thought she was joking until she invited us in for chai, Kenya’s national drink.  (Ok, I made the “national drink” part up, but it should be as it is impossible to go a day without chai!)  We accepted the invitation and we soon saw that she was not joking about having more plants inside.  Pots and vines were everywhere.  Vines were trained up the ceiling and over and across to the other side of the room.  One could make a game of finding which pot a vine originated from!

Pete and Maria playing on the deck.

Once seated, Lisa’s daughter, Maria, who is in third grade, prayed for our chai (so sweet!) and then Lisa served us the best chai we have had thanks to her fresh cow’s milk (unlike the usual unrefrigerated, ultra-pasturized milk that is common here that I think it tastes awfully funky) and a Tea Masala blend of spices which made the tea taste more like Indian chai.  Soon enough, Pete, Lisa’s husband who is a dentist at Tenwek, was describing the wonderful food Lisa makes and how she is a great cook.  Well, of course I had to find out all about what she makes and how she makes it.  In the end, Pete suggested a Friday night duo supper where the two “expert cooks” would make the food (Lisa the Kenyan meal and I a dessert) and the two “expert eaters” (Pete and Scott) would do their share of eating.  It is thus how Scott and I were invited to our first Kenyan meal in a Kenyan home and we looked forward to Friday night with great anticipation.

The meal on Friday did not disappoint!  Lisa made so many dishes it was like a grand buffet!  There was beef stew, beef stir fry, chapatis (like tortillas) with carrot and cilantro shreds inside the dough, sukuma wiki (cooked kale), cooked cabbage with cilantro, sauteed green beans and julienned carrots, a tomato and pickled ginger chutney, a tomato chutney with sultannas, Mukenye (mashed sweet potato and beans), Matoke(boiled and mashed green bananas) served with a peanut sauce, a lettuce salad with carrots and avocado, and homemade mango-pineapple juice.

Starting from the bottom to the top:  cabbage with cilantro, chapatis, beef stew, sauteed carrots and green beans, beef stir fry, avocado-carrot lettuce salad, a tomato chutney (hiding behind the spoon handle), peanut sauce, matoke, mukenye, another tomato chutney, and sukuma wiki.

It was all so good and fresh with almost all of the vegetable dishes coming straight from her garden–and if not her garden, then a farm a few miles away.  Except for the chutneys, none of the foods had any additional spices or seasoning.  I have been told by another Kenyan that lack of seasoning, besides salt, is common because historically spices have been expensive and thus they were never incorporated into the Kenyan cuisine (except on the coast of Kenya due to trade and the proximity to India).

Me and Maria

For dessert, I made this fudgy chocolate cake set in a pool of orange curd from this recipe with a variation of these espresso meringues crushed over top of the cake for texture.  I used my precious Ghiradelli chocolate chips I brought from the States (which I think my mom bought me for Christmas!) for the cake and I had to borrow beaters and an oven (my oven ran out of gas–terrible timing) to make the meringue cookies.  In the end though it was all worth it and I’m so glad I went the extra mile because Lisa’s meal, and endless leftovers, were such a blessing to us!

Daktari (Doctor) Pete proudly shows us the green bananas used to make the matoke.

The next day, on Saturday, Scott and I went with a group of other visiting medical staff to a town called Kericho (1-2 hours away) for a day trip.  On the way we passed by beautiful countryside, followed by gorgeous tea plantation fields, and then ended at the Tea Hotel in Kericho for lunch.  Below is a bunch of pictures (most taken while driving) so you can hopefully get a good idea how pretty the countryside is here and learn a few cultural tidbits.  Enjoy!

The countryside surrounding Tenwek. Sorry for the large proportion of road in this picture! Scott took this picture out of the car’s back right window and you drive on the left side of the road here!

 

The road behind.

A tea picker with a full basket of tea leaves on his/her head.

I really like this picture

. . . and this one too.

 

Some cows on the side of the road. Cows are everywhere here, they’re as plentiful as the squirrels are in North Carolina, only they are bigger and sometimes accompanied by a mean and dangerous looking bull so it is best to be careful. That said, I wonder if Kenyans ever tip cows over while they sleep like Iowans . . . thoughts? I think I may have to do some investigating.

Ok, so I know the dirt road here and in the picture above look relatively smooth, but trust me, we NEEDED this vehicle. Don’t leave home without one! The roads are so rough, riveted, rocky, rrrr-something and full of potholes, that you are constantly tossed and jostled around. These cars are also useful for when it rains and the roads turn to mud.

 

Our driver, Donald, stopped just before we drove through this river saying, “Just one minute,” as he got out of the car and disappeared into the trees on the side of the road (AKA-nature called). Scott and Allen (a prosthetician) looked at each other and decided to do likewise.  Unfortunately, there are no reststops or bathrooms for girls to use!

Luckily, there were these two little boys on the side of the road with a panga (a machete-like sword) who could, um, protect us?

 

A close-up. I can see why my friend wants to adopt a Kenyan child every time she comes here. They’re beautiful.  P.S. the boots the child in red is wearing are called “gum boots.”

The beautiful scenery continues . . .

 

Loving it!

 

Tea plantation workers with baskets on their backs on a British tea plantation. As we drove by many people, like the guy on the left in yellow, eagerly waved to us as we drove by, often with fists full of tea leaves. In fact, so many people eagerly waved to us on the back-country, dirt road that we took, that it felt a bit like we could have been on a float in a small-town parade throwing candy to the kids or something. Perhaps people along the rough road we took don’t see many muzungus (white people) forging their way through, or perhaps Kenyans are just that friendly.

Ok, do you see the uniformity of the trees in the distance here? These trees are also planted and harvested by the tea plantations and are used in the making the tea. The trees they use grow this tall in only five years and every time they harvest a “field” they plant new trees. Once harvested, they cut the tall skinny trunk up into four foot pieces and uniformly stack them high like a Jenga game until they are burned and used to dry out the tea leaves.

The trees in the very distant background of this picture (beyond the uniform ones) are part of the Mau Forest where some elephants live. Sadly, we didn’t see any. 😦

Identical houses of the plantation workers, some are rectangular like these, other groupings are circular like the traditional Kipsigis hut.

Perfect plantation fields

And again

Here we were on smooth road going at a reasonable pace and I felt divine with the sun on my face, the wind tossing my hair, beauty all around, and no worries.  Life was good, and then Scott snapped this pic of me. I think I look like Crazy Horse, what do you think?

The Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota. 

Me outside of the Tea Hotel in Kericho where we had lunch.

The girls at the table.

 

Monkeys played on the rooftops while we ate.

 

Another monkey pic!

The garden and grounds in the back of the Tea Hotel

Thanks for viewing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Kenyan Dinner and a Day Out

  1. Dasha

    beautiful land!

  2. Nat

    I loved this story Whitney! Awesome pictures!

  3. Tami Guthmiller

    I loved the Whitney Crazy Horse look-a-like photo! That was funny.
    The meal looked amazing – YUM!

  4. Jane westphal

    I’m so jealous!! I want to be there. What an amazing experience.

  5. Robert L. Visser

    Great experience, the plants and flowers indoors and out, the views along the country road, and the people, food, and culture. I really like that i did not see onions on the menu list. Yum! Yum!

  6. Roma Visser

    Thank you for “taking us along” to your buffet at Pete and Lisa’s (it all looked so good and healthy!) and then on your road trip to Kericho. The scenery was spectacular, the tea plantations were beautiful, the boys with the machete were beautiful, and even the cows were good-looking! I liked your jeep, too. Your resemblance to Crazy Horse was uncanny and it was fun to scroll down and see the actual picure of Crazy Horse to compare. Pretty funny : ) Thank you for taking the time to blog and share your days with us. We look foward to it so much!

  7. fridah

    hi Whitney,..hi Scott.glad u had an awesome time and enjoyed,i personally love matoke!u should have eaten ugali too:-) u can call it maize flour cake lol.it was nyce meeting and knowing u,God bless

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