This post is tangentially food related, eventually. Hang in there.
So, I am not a runner. I'm not entirely un-athletic- in my earlier 20's I competed in a ton of triathlons and 5 half marathons as well as belonged to a master's swim team. But I have never really taken to running. It's always a chore and though I have that mental image of myself looking like a buff woman in a Nike ad, bounding through fields of grass, it's never been like that for me. Running hurts. And after wearing flip flops for two straight years in Samoa, my feet are pretty messed up. However, Nathan bought me a pair of these as a surprise a few months ago:
Vibram FiveFingers". Yes, they are goofy looking and the first time I wore them my feet felt funky- but in a very happy, light and comfortable way. I've worn them to walk around in a bunch of times and really like the fit (and yes, I do get funny looks). But today I decided to actually run in them- which is what they are for. Oh. My. Gosh. Amazing. I didn't go far (you are supposed to only run short distances for a while to get used to the feel) but my feet and shins didn't hurt one bit. Normally even a hundred meters of jogging would be painful. Amazing. Maybe I will finally be that buff woman in the Nike ad bounding through a grassy field. With giraffes. I saw 8 giraffes from the car the other day. Also amazing.
Ok. Moving on to Nathan's tantrum.
When we first started dating and I met his family, his brother and father delighted in telling me the story of a tantrum he threw sometime in early elementary school at his birthday party. Apparently someone gave him a gift that he absolutely did not want, and he responded by screaming something along the lines of "I hate this gift!" and flinging said gift across the room. (I think it was a GI Joe type toy.) While the story cracked me up, I didn't fully believe it because I couldn't imagine Nathan throwing a tantrum.
Well. I can now imagine it.
The other day, we were in Nairobi for some work stuff. It was lunchtime, we were hungry, so we asked the taxi driver to drop us off at a place to grab a quick bite to eat. He brought us to an eatery which resembled a strip mall with about 15 different cafes with large menus posted outside their stall. Most were Indian food, with some Chinese, BBQ and ice cream thrown in. There were dozens of picnic tables to eat at.
We headed towards one end of the eatery and began to walk our way towards the other end in order to skim the menus at each place and make our decision. However, about 30 seconds after our arrival, a swarm of men approached us, wielding menus and hawking their varied specials. We attempted to continue down the strip of cafes and peruse the menus, but the men (I'm guessing about 15+ men?) continued to hover, waving their menus in our face, letting us know the daily specials were 'very very nice'. Nathan forged on, and I followed, with a man closely following me who was literally chanting his menu at me "chapatti paneer chicken tikka garlic nan mutton tikka plain nan aloo paneer with chapatti". I've never felt so overwhelmed when attempting to select a lunch. We continued on, plunging through men and menus. I went to my 'happy place'. Nathan did not.
He stopped. The men stopped (though continued chanting their daily specials). He turned around to face the crowd.
"Hey! Hey! Woah! Guys! Be quiet! Stop following us! Go away! We are trying to decide where to eat! If you continue to shove your menu in my face and shout at me, I will specifically NOT get a meal at your restaurant!! Leave us alone!" In a loud voice. Causing several shopkeepers to look up and snicker at the irate muzungu. But also causing the vast majority of the men to walk away looking slightly stunned.
We sat down at a picnic table, ordered paneer tikka (which was delicious) from the nearest restaurant and ate in peace. (Aside from one bold worker who cautiously approached our table to see if we wanted tea or coffee from his cafe. Luckily for him, we did.)
Will we return? Unsure. Our food was pretty stellar (we have noticed that food from a mall food court, and strip mall type food, is unexpectedly delicious). Our paneer tikka was great. I think next time we'll just have to resign ourselves to sitting at the picnic table and suffer the barrage of men and menus. Though, I suppose given Nathan's tanty, we might be refused service.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
We are still settling into our little house. We FINALLY acquired an oven last week and I've been baking a LOT of muffins. I made some tasty carrot-raisin muffins, but then began to perfect my banana-orange zest-cardamom-pecan muffins. Nathan is enjoying the process. We've found places to buy fruit and discovered that Kenya has gigantic papaya and avocado. See above. Gigantic!
I've also been making a TON of pasta. Yes- I brought my 10+ lb pasta making machine to Kenya. We made a massive batch of ravioli a few days ago- made with homemade ricotta cheese! (Pictured above top right.) I'll post more about cheese-making in Africa, but for now admire the butternut squash/sage/ricotta filling (orange) and sun-dried tomato/herb/ricotta filling. Yum!
(Sorry- it's hard to tell what's going on in this picture.)
I discovered bi bim bap through my friend Jen G. and have since been making all sorts of random homemade versions. Bi bim bap is a Korean dish, usually with assorted veggies and tofu (or meat) on rice, with an egg perched on the top. There is a ridiculous variety of vegetables to be found in Narok- green beans, collard greens (sukuma wiki), shelled peas, carrots, zucchini, sugar snap peas, eggplant, sweet potato, squashes....
In this dish, I sauteed carrots with ginger and lemon (and a dash of honey), collared greens with lemon and garlic, dry-roasted green beans with hoisin sauce and sesame seeds, and marinated steamed potato with chili, garlic, lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and salt. Add some steamed broccoli, arrange all the toppings neatly on brown rice, and top with a fried egg. Perfect!
We've gone to Nairobi a few times for work-related things (and to find the afore-mentioned oven!) and discovered Habesha- an incredibly delicious (and I presume authentic) Ethiopian restaurant. The restaurant has a neat ambience- a lot of private tables and eating nooks scattered around a large garden-y area, complete with some sort of sweet-scented incense-emitting fire. We order the 'mixed vegetables' and 'cheese' dishes, and it arrives looking like this!
The white stuff (including the white stuff that lines the large tray) is injera bread, which I had hoped to learn how to make for the blog. Unfortunately, I learned that it takes 4 weeks (and dozens of cups of flour) to make the starter. Given my natural inclinations against being patient, I don't think this will happen. Does it count if I eat a lot of injera bread?
I also love Ethiopian food because you are supposed to eat with your hands by tearing off pieces of the bread and grabbing the foods with it. Any meal eaten with the hands is spectacular in my book! This restaurant was a great find- I'm sure we'll be back there many times.
Finally, we ate at the Chips n' Sticks kiosk at a mall. (There are a lot of malls in Nairobi.) I'm not sure how to explain this one. It would fit in very well with typical American 'fair food' though.
They take a peeled raw potato, then insert it in a little contraption which somehow slices/spirals the potato. Then, the spiraled potato is stretched out on the stick and plunked in a fryer. After a good solid fry, the stick is removed and sprinkled with your choice of flavors. There were the traditional chip seasonings like sour cream and onion (which is what we had) and salt and vinegar, but also some more unusual ones- assorted seafoods, worcester sauce, fruit chutney, chicken...
You eat it by peeling potato chip pieces from the spiral. I have to say- it was more enjoyable to watch it being made than to eat it. The flavorings were not very zesty, and the chip wasn't crunchy enough. (Maybe it needed to be fried longer?)
I'll post soon about my adventures with cheese-making, and our trip to the animal orphanage. (Which does not involve food but does involve charismatic megafauna.)
Posted by Jordan at 4:34 AM