Cooking has been a large adjustment and a bit of a challenge since I have arrived in Kenya. Actually, a lot of things are very different; there is so much going on that its hard to believe I haven’t been here 1 week yet. Today had some accomplishments and a couple not so stellar moments. Starting off with a positive, today after work I had a banana (they are lovely here and full of flavour), threw my backpack back on and trekked to the Nakumatt superstore all by myself in search of ingredients to make some Indian food. This sounds really lame when I read that sentence over to myself, but I have only passed by this store once and I have only been here 3 days. I am still trying to get used to being alert about what is happening around me while dealing with a sensory overload.
During my short 10 minute walk I am looking at the people who pass me and using my peripherals to judge if a pickpocket could be behind me, as well as noticing the lumpy dirt walking path with little bits of garbage strewn about that I really don’t want to trip on. I see pretty plants that grab my attention and a mucky little ‘puddle stream’ going along the ditch beside the walking path. I am smelling a lot of exhaust from the many cars and matatus (private bus vans), another waft of garbage and pee, and then I get a yummy waft of some sort of bread cooking. Horns are honking, people are talking, and I am just trying to mind my own business. It’s all still surreal to me. I’m almost there…enjoying the feeling of the warm of the sun and thinking to myself ‘Every metropolitan city has dangerous aspects, but that is usually a small proportion, just be alert and quit being paranoid.’ Then I relax and begin to enjoy the casual chaos that is happening around me.
I arrive at Nakumatt, which is a supermarket chain in Kenya that carries a lot of imported goods that Kenyans didn’t have before Nakumatt opened. In fact, yesterday I was told that KFC recently opened a store here and the line-ups for take-out are huge! Anyways, my trip to the store had some awesome surprises (2 of my guilty food pleasures):
- Skippy Peanut Butter (creamy)
- Dairy Milk Caramel Chocolate Bar (from England its better chocolate than Canada’s)
- Found all my ingredients for Indian curry (or so I thought…)
- Beer (Sierra Brewery which is a good micro-brewery right in Nairobi)
After, I am feeling pretty pleased with myself and have an enjoyable walk home feeling like I am almost ready to conquer the real fresh veggie market. I will have to barter for prices and I am hoping that I will have a wider selection of veggies compared to the superstore; but I think that Kenyan meals focus more on meat than veggies. At home I have a couple of pieces of chocolate, a bit of peanut butter and jelly, crack a beer, and then realize I forgot to buy chicken for my ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’. I am cheating anyways by using Tikka Masala out of a jar. So it turned into veggie Tikka, with basmati rice (that was fluffy and not burnt) all made in crazy pots with no matching lids and slanted element burners (where only 2/4 work). After the meal I’ve decided that Indian Tikka out of jar doesn’t make the cut for my taste buds and I must learn to make curry the hard way. It will be interesting in this kitchen of hodgepodge tools… but it’s better than nothing.
Sidenote: The sun sets around 6:30 p.m here, so there isn’t much time after work for a beer in the sunshine. I think this is going to seriously cut down my beer intake.