Friday, June 4, 2010

Slow Food - Africa Style

First off, it's great to be back Blogging again - I feel like it's been ages since I've written, and man what an exciting past couple of weeks.  My goal is to describe different aspects of my African Adventure in my next few I'm starting today.  So much to report.... here we go....

So....I've heard quite a bit of talk lately about the slow food movement and the importance of growing your own food and eating local, yada yada, which I think is all fine and dandy if someone chooses to do that. I cultivate a lovely garden myself and you really can't beat fresh lettuce or tomatoes you've had a part in growing.  It's the closest thing I have to kids right now.  (Clapping! Something I can take care of all by myself!)  Apparently this is a new concept to many people - but I, like many of my neighbors and relatives back home, did grow up eating from a garden and collecting eggs and it was just a way of life.  Seems this "new concept" has really taken off again...haha.  People have really discovered something that is going to change the world...right?!   Growing up this way, I understand the work that goes into eating from a garden (and a chicken coop) and I also understand why many people don't have the time, patience or resources to do it anymore.  It's hard work, folks. I'm thankful for my ability to grow my own food, but I'm also very thankful for our food system, the choices we have, and the knowledge we have to make the choices we want.  This became even more evident after my trip to Africa...Let me describe one very fun full-day event...

A family my sister got to know during her time there invited us over to prepare and eat a meal with them.  This was so nice of them to offer, so we kept our bellies empty and our minds open.  Let me preface by saying that the whole process of preparing the meal and eating took about 7 hours.  We started at 4 p.m. and finished eating at 11 p.m.  It was honestly one of the most memorable parts of my trip.  Africans are currently living the slow food movement -- growing majority of their diet and buying minimal ingredients to accompany.  The foods are limited and include flour, rice, kale, beans, corn, fresh fruits, eggs, cabbage and chicken (on special occasions). Some special food is grown occasionally, but the above list about covers it...hence our dinner on this night! for the pictures...

Here is the hen that gave its life so we could be nourished. Haley bought this hen alive for $7.  Yes, chickens are very expensive to buy and eat in Africa, and they don't come shrink wrapped. Their eggs are a valuable nutrition source too.

If you want chicken, you have to kill it you can see, slow food is not easy.  Not gonna lie, my heart was racing at this point.  I'm not a heartless person at all and love animals, but I believe some animals are God's food sources for man's nourishment.  There is a certain sense of respect you gain when you kill your own food.

De-feathering.  Notice the women are doing the work and the boys were behind the camera.  I tell ya...

Nangella helped me butcher and keep the edible parts of the coo coo (chicken in swahilli).  This included the head, feet, back and eggs.  It is considered rude if the woman of the house is not allowed the honor of cooking for her guests and her family. Before this point, we had to wait for Nangella to arrive before cutting up the chicken.

Ready to be cooked over the fire!

Haley rolling and preparing dough for Chapatis.  These are an african favorite made with flour, water and oil. Chapatis are considered to be a special treat due to the use of vegetable oil, which is very expensive.

Chapatis cooking after being rolled out.

Then we milked a cow for the milk to use with tea for dessert. Each family owned a couple cows for milk.

 My version of bull riding - african style.

Haley cut down some bananas from their trees in the back yard.

Our stove.  My chicken is in that pot. We constantly fed and blew the fire to maintain a strong flame.  There's no leaving this oven!

A top view of Sarah in the kitchen.  She is working the Ugali, which is a flour and water mixture.  You also see rice and kale here.  The cooking process reminded me of camping, but much more complex.

We all sat down to eat together.  In reality, it was really dark in here.  They lit the table with a lantern.  We couldn't really see what we were eating, but MAN WAS IT YUMMY!

Chicken, Chapati, Ugali and Rice

The cooks.  Nothing like dirty feet after a long day of cooking and eating.

During our time cooking and talking, I learned so much about living, preparing food, and eating the African way.  This was a great experience I was glad to have been a part of. I'm not going to lie, eating this way is a lot of work that I prob would not want to do every day, but was definitely well worth it in the end.  The companionship we gained while preparing the meal together and then sharing it as family and friends could not be beat.   Now that I'm back in America, I'm secretly glad I don't have to kill my own chicken to eat it and I'm glad I'm not confined to the few staple foods I grow myself.  Let's see, that would mean my diet would consist of tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, kale, and onions....I'd be getting really creative real fast!  As for those people who want to grow and eat all their own food...all I have to say is...Good luck!!  


  1. I just loved reading this. Can't wait to hear more. It is fascinating to see how the meal was prepared. I am uber impressed at how respectful you were in your participation in activities that would make most of us squirmish.

  2. Welcome back. This was a great post and I can't wait to read more about your African Adventure.


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