Belly joy

 

“Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is.”

 

Over a week ago while going through the posts on popular Facebook page “Kampala Food Network” I noticed one of the administrators, Kavitha had asked a question, with a prize attached. It was actually a comment within a post so I am not sure how I stumbled upon it. There was a picture of what seemed like sea food and Kavitha offered a four course meal, prepared by her as a prize for whoever got the answer right. By the time I started reading, a one Petero had given the correct answer, “cockles.” I did not even bother to google. I just commented with a crying emoticon, jealous of the feast Petero would get to encounter. See, I stalk Kavitha and her cooking. Everything from meats to desserts, the sight just makes my stomach somersault. While I have been present at functions she has catered, somehow I never get a chance to really indulge in her food because of the work I am often doing. I digress.

I followed the comments thereafter and imagine my shock and utter glee when I read a comment from the winner saying he was nominating Shamillah (another fan who’d commented) and ‘Esther’ as recipients of this meal. Why? Because he is out of the country and could not make it. What? How? Scratch that *insert not-so-coordinated dance moves* How exciting! Kavitha, Shamillah and I took our conversation aside to agree on dates away from the post. Yaay!

So many things happened before D-day and I was afraid I would have to cancel. The month had been a wild mix of heart-rending events and I decided the meal would very well become a priority to add some much needed colour.

Finally, the long awaited day I arrived. I ensured my breakfast was light and my taste buds fully alive. I arrived at Kavitha’s lovely home well before time. After a brief catch up, I let her get back to work in her spacious kitchen which would probably make my mom green with envy. Her boys kept me company as we waited for Shamillah to arrive.  Had I stayed longer, family secrets would have been spilled: P

Our thoughtful host had set our table on the patio because of the heat and boy was it a treat! When Shamillah arrived, we just went straight into it. Below you will see the pictures, and a description of each meal.

appetizer

Amuse bouche : Guacamole in tostone cups topped with spciy diced chicken

 

soup

Soup Butternut squash soup with toasted French bread

main

Main course: Tandoori lamb chops with mint chutney, matchstick fries and sweet lemon, cherry tomatoes, orange salad

nohito

Watermelon nojito featuring Shamillah’s hand

water

The boys kept asking why we have two drinks. Hehe, why not? Orange water

dessert

Chai masala cake with vanilla ice cream and date sauce

 

Needless to say, everything tasted as good as it looks, probably more! I’m hunnnngggrrryyy! *wails*

Between cooking, checking on her boys and dealing with clients, mixed orders et al over the phone, Kavitha was still engaged and pleasant during the course of our meal. She served us, brought more drinks when the glasses were emptying and even had time to throw in some recipes. Superwoman!

The most difficult part of it all was when she asked which of the 4 our favourite was. How can you punish one with making such a choice? The second most difficult point was having to get up after all of that eating. By dessert, Shamillah and I were struggling to find space. Nonetheless, the aromas and presentation could not keep us away!

The four course meal was prepared with love, and you could taste it. Our taste buds were tantalised and left asking for more. As a slow eater, this is definitely my kind of set up. Conversation, bits of different foods brought at different intervals, no rush just basking in the enjoyment of different flavours. I felt like a Princess and feared that going back into the ‘rea’ world would taint this newfound serenity.

As if ALL of this was not enough, Kavitha had a surprise ‘goodbye package’ for us; a box of cookies each, with red ribbon. Was this m actual birthday and no one told me?!! We were overjoyed! When I looked at my dinner later that evening, I was underwhelmed. How to ‘dilute’ all those mouth-watering dishes with my simple cooking? Suddenly tea with cookies and left over cake seemed like the best option and that was how it went down!

This experience, in its entirety was just what the doctor ordered 🙂

I have encountered several business people in Uganda who have forgotten how to be humans first. Somewhere along the way, they lose their soul and succumb to pressures, leaving only profits as their driving force. I am glad to know a few who are exceptions, and Kavitha is one of them.

When I narrated the tale to the mother, she was stunned. She assured me one of these days I will win something huge, if I can even be gifted prizes that weren’t mine to start with. I tend to agree: P

 

Very special thanks to Petero, whom I have never met or spoken to, for nominating Shamillah and I to partake in this feast. Gratitude to Kavitha for being an awesome chef, host and all round wonderful human being and last but not least, my new friend Shamillah who was my partner in oooohhs and aaahhhsss.

P.s: Kavitha, next time you and the hubby need a romantic getaway, I am happy to babysit your lovely boys 😉

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Sukuma wiki

It is one of those days. You wake up and check the weather update. ‘4 degrees but feels like 0 degrees,’ it reads. You check your mood. It seems to agree with the temperature. You open up your laptop to try and accomplish the easiest tasks first. Fail. You ever have one of those days? Linda has been going through the same phase. She is barely motivated and feels like she is carrying the weight of the entire world on her shoulder. She is afraid of speaking up because once she gives this period a name, it may slowly begin to think it has found a home. Nope, it shall remain nameless.
She cooks, she cleans, anything to keep busy. She tries to concentrate one more time. Nothing. The words are blurry. She is neither sleepy nor tired but that irritating migraine is trying to come back. She can visualise the exact spot she left her magic painkillers back at home, with the faith that she wouldn’t need them. What to do? “God, you know I can’t continue like this,” she pleads. “Can you hear me? Well of course you can, but you know what I mean,” she muses. She looks up at the sticky note she recently added to her wall. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” She reads it out loud. She plays a collection on gospel music but does not sing along even once. She knows something is definitely wrong, but what and why?

*Change environment* Classes must be have ended by now. She grabs her jacket and goes on a search for human interaction. She will visit Grace and Jacob and talk about everything and nothing, that should help. Grace seems perturbed but Linda is not sure where to start. They talk about school. “The other day, we were taught by a lecturer who is a young girl like you.” Linda laughs. When she is with the rest of the East African team, she is a ‘young girl,’ back at her floor, she is hanging with teenagers. Grace finally opens up. She’d received her bank statement and noticed she only received half her pay at work. Her and her husband had made plans for the full amount. His salary to take care of other bills and hers to pay the balance on school fees for the children while the rest goes to servicing a loan. The 50% was pretty much all going to the loan. She wrote to the school to ask for an explanation, only to be told it is ‘policy’ yet they had promised her full pay before she left. She was distraught and yet she kept smiling and speaking calmly. “Where is this woman from?” Linda thought. She was a mastermind at controlling emotions. They kept talking as she thought of ways to navigate her stipend and send money home. Linda was torn. To hug or not to hug? Is a few weeks not too soon to be in a friend’s personal space? “Why am I over thinking this?” As you can imagine, the moment passed while she played ‘kawuna’ with her thoughts. She made a mental note to do something else to cheer her up.

Jacob on the other hand had been under the weather. He had struggled with headaches too. Linda found out that almost everyone she spoke too had been troubled by the same. It seems the bodies were still struggling to adopt. He was speaking to his little son. Both Grace and Jacob, along with the other Kenyans in the group, continued to lace all their conversations with Swahili. She’d never mentioned to any of them that she understood almost every word they said. However, she wondered what it’d be like to be oblivious of what the conversations were about 50% of the time. Rose joined in and subsequently complained about a nasty headache. Her son was ill and she’d been up very early that day so as to catch him before he went to hospital. Linda could not help but be consumed by thoughts on how everyone in the group had a spouse and/or children to worry about, while her troubles were of a completely different nature.

As she planned to leave, Jacob insisted that she joins them for supper. She resisted for a bit although she knew how depressing eating alone had been for her. She’d still not got the hang of it and often gave up after a few bites into whatever she cooked. How does a Kenyan man cook minus ugali(posho)? He doesn’t! He made ugali, sukuma wiki and warmed some chicken that he’d already fried. When he asked what ‘sukuma wiki’ was called in Uganda, Linda mentioned it had the same name. In her mind, it was just another ‘local’ name for vegetables like Dodo or Nakati. She couldn’t have been more wrong. Jacob explained that the name was from the literal meaning Sukuma-to push, wiki-week. Basically, it is the meal that ‘pushes you through the week.’ His illustration was a casual worker who makes Ksh 100 per day (about Ugx 3,300) and has to feed his family, plan for rent and other bills. He knows that with 10shs, he can get some ‘sukuma wiki’ that, together with the ugali will keep his family satisfied until the next meal. Oh the things you’ll learn!

Ugali_&_Sukuma_Wiki

Yum! Google image

P.s:The English name for this healthy vegetable is ‘kale’ (no, not pronounced like the Luganda word, read in ‘English’ please, thanks :p) and it belongs to the cabbage family

sukuma 1

Although for Linda, ugali is a reminder of the ‘posho and beans’ combo consumed throughout her young school life, she found herself enjoying the meal (all consumed sans fork) and even more so, the ‘family setting.’

As she walked back to her room, she barely noticed the breeze. Everyone was fighting a battle, sometimes similar or completely different from the ‘next guy.’ She simply needed to figure out a strategy to be able to ‘sukuma wiki’ for the next few months and essentially the duration of the course….and life in general.

Out and about

The life of a student is a complicated one, especially when in a place away from home. You want to work hard and excel but you also need to take in the sights and sounds, uncertain whether you shall get another opportunity to indulge.

Linda is no different. She looks at her to do list and then turns to her ‘to visit’ list soon after. Imagine her joy when she realised some of the must see places were next door to her residence!

When Linda was certain she was going to London, she shared her address with her brother. He looked it up and exclaimed what a great location it was. Filled with anxiety and related emotions at the time, she did not fully comprehend what he meant, until Sunday.

On Sunday, she arranged to meet her brother’s friend James.* He had agreed to take her to church, and show her some sights.

The walk to church was practically 5 minutes, a great relief for her knowing her Sundays were sorted. Westminster cathedral stood there, in all its grandeur and poise. Staring would be for later. First the mass.

It was a beautiful sermon that recreated Jesus’ baptism and its meaning to the lives of Christians. The message may have not been very new, but its delivery was.

After mass, the two took a short tour of the chapels and James wondered aloud, why African churches did not also adopt the concept of little chapels within the cathedrals.

With a variety of restaurants to choose from, they settled for an Italian restaurant called “Zizzi.” Not in the mood to experiment, Linda ordered a pizza, as did her host.

PP

It turned out to be the right decision as the pizza was scrumptious. The olive oil availed to use with reckless abandon was a plus.

What followed was nothing short of a little adventure. The walk to various sights was like a scene from a movie, or perhaps more than one. From Buckingham palace to Hyde park to the Houses of Parliament and a quick stop at Downing street, it became increasingly improbable for Linda to keep her eyes from widening (or her jaw from dropping)

Piccadily circus, surrounded by theatres, cinemas and restaurants offered a great atmosphere filled with energy and lights, lots of them. This was followed by a walk through Leicester square which houses several theatres that are often used for movie Premieres (All those red carpet moments seen on t.v suddenly struggled to be remembered)

leicester-square-09

big ben

As James and Linda walked returned from their view of Big Ben and the London eye, Linda couldn’t help but make out the sounds of Sam Smith’s, “stay with me.” When they turned around, a gentleman, with chubby cheeks, probably in his twenties, stood there belting out the lyrics, guitar in hand..and guitar case filled with coins. His voice was sultry and seemingly effortless.

She asked James if they could stay and watch. Before long, a small crowd formed. His rendition of Passenger’s ‘Let her go’ was tear-worthy (in a good way) At this point it was 4 degrees and the wind was unamused too. They left shortly after this song. This was not before James passed Linda a pound to tip the talented young man. It was quite possibly the best pound she’d ‘spent’ since she got there.

They started to walk back. Next day being a work/school day.  Time seemed to have stopped in Linda’s head.

At a cinema en route, they stopped for warm beverages. Linda looked at the cinema’s prices. Movie at £18??Sssh…Surely Channing Tatum ought to give you at least a hug during the movie at that rate, no?

It was quite difficult to do much when Linda got back to her residence. She ate the leftovers of her pizza and gave thanks to the Lord for opportunities, kind acquaintances and life.

Images : Google

Market day

Linda and two of her friends had agreed to check out the Brixton market on Friday. Part of the fun is figuring things on one’s own and as such, they did not have a chaperone. Thankfully, this stop was on the same line  as theirs(Think one of train stops on the same route)

Right after they got to the station, they did not know where to go. They decided to  turn left and then come back if they failed to find it (or ask along the way) Voila, the market stood in its glory just a few metres after the lucky turn.

It was easy to tell because of the buzz that surrounded ‘traders.’ In just a couple of minutes, they had seen bananas, avacado, mangoes and pretty much everything that screamed ‘home’ to them. They decided to take a short tour and then return to make some purchases.

Brixton UG

Do you see that flag, do ya?

The walk seemed to uncover something new with every step. The population in this area is mainly of African and Caribbean descent. As an African, you would feel right at home, as the trio did on this cold Saturday afternoon.

They agreed that they needed to taste food from at least one restaurant before they left. The pick was what seemed like an Italian restaurant with a varied menu that had everything from curries to french fries (chips). Milly and Christine settled for chips and chicken, while Linda had a beef curry with rice. The prices are quite pocket friendly. In fact, the train fare, meal and drink were altogether cheaper than a meal at the street where the students live.

They agreed to try out a new restaurant whenever they were in the area. What better way to ‘travel the world’ than through discovering different cuisines, right?

BRIXTON restaurant

Google image

 

Ahead of them lay a cosmetics shop that had everything from weaves to the hair oils they know and love. Milly purchased a few brands she was familiar with and then they were off. Before embarking on the ‘food trail,’ they chanced upon a little Christian bookshop that turned out to be a gem. It had beautiful messages, books and gifts that left the ladies wishing they had a shopping allowance. Milly suggested a group Bible study for the East African team after finding a book that would serve as a guide. Christine and Linda happily welcomed the idea and made their contribution so as to purchase the book.

After spending more time than they should have in the lovely, store, they decided to concentrate of their purpose for the visit. Most of the items were sold at one pound each. For those that seemed greater in quantity like apples, oranges and onions, Milly and Linda split so that each could take home a fair share that could last them a week or more.

brixton food

Google image

While looking for flour, to make chapatis, Linda bumped into a shop attendant of Indian descent. He did not even ask her where she was from and immediately started a conversation.
Him: Gyebale nyabo

Linda: *quizzical look on her face* Kale, naawe gyebale

Him: Olyotya?

Her: Gendi

Him: Oyagala matooke..?
Her: *giggle* Nedda ssebo

After a while, Christine pulled her aside to ask if he indeed knew ‘her language..’ They did not find the flour but Linda made sure to buy some items from him.

It started to rain (as it often does, out of the blue) and the ladies took shelter for a while. The bags were too heavy and too full to stand the burden of umbrellas.

The ride back was quiet after 3 or so odd hours of ‘shopping.’

With Linda still struggling to keep up with the change in time zones, her system dictated a long bath and some rest even though the night was still young.

P.s

  • The shops generally give shopping bags in this area although it is best to carry a big one in which you can throw everything
  • It is also a great entertainment scene, with several bars, Ritzy, picturehouse, the largest independent cinema in the UK, Brixton academy that hosts live shows and live music. There are also several other items ranging from clothing to jewellery, new and second hand. Perhaps Linda will have more to add on this in future.
  • Apparently, Brixton’s crime rate is considerably higher than most areas in and around London.. but there were no incidents to report on while the ladies discovered bits of this vibrant area.

Free food!

The day started out cold and rainy. All Linda could think of were the excuses people would be making to cut work or make their way out of appointments back at home.

She found a colleague and they set off for the train station.

Controller at the train station : Are you Kenyan?

Linda: No, Ugandan

Guy:  *In heavy British accent* Ogamba ki?

Linda: *Wide grin* Gendi mani….

The ride to the University was smooth and fast.

The venue for the ‘new’ student’s meeting was a bevy of activity as Linda settled in her seat.

She said hello to her neighbour who happened to be Australian. As they got to talking he asked her if she knew the singer Roberto and if he was from Uganda 😀

Linda: The one who sang ‘amarula?’

Him: Yes! Is he Ugandan?

Linda: I wish. He is Zambian

Him: I love that song!

Great ice breaker. Before long, they were catching up like old friends.

With a few hours to spare before the next session, Linda and her friends took a stroll to pick up their student IDs. The campus seems to have a new building that pops up every other minute.

At the orientation, the group had been told about a gentleman who serves free lunch daily and had been toying with the idea of trying it out.  Free food in London? Why not?! Some of the other students were sceptical but Linda was happy to try anything at least once.

By 12pm, the queue was filling up. They were curious about the food for that day’s serving and quickly joined in.

It turned out to be rice, some bread, mushroom sauce and even strawberries! (for dessert perhaps?) The portions were quite big too. Best of all, it was hot!

hot food

 

Daniel, by far the funniest guy in the lot, started to exclaim that he would not buy any food for as long as he was at the University. He started mapping out a route in which he would head to school daily, with or without lectures just for the food. Daniel even vowed to get a seat in the library with perfect view of the serving area so as to arrive on time.

This is the same guy who earlier said he had  plain ugali (posho) for breakfast that day because he was unsure when his next meal would come 😀

Linda could not get over the guy who cooks and serves this food and made a mental note to get him to tell his story, at a later stage. If this happens, we get to ‘hear’ it here 🙂

 

More next time.

 

The luxury that is food..

A quick internet search led me to a few statistics that left me quite uncomfortable. Sometimes, you see and hear things but cannot quite comprehend their intensity.

The World Food Programme website gave me  a bit of that;

  • Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished.
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

Can you let that sink in? Honestly, that can take a while, and it would still not really sink in. At least it hasn’t for me.

The world ‘celebrated’ World food day last week and the good people at  Hello Food decided to do something amazing for the less fortunate among us.

They are giving away a kilogram of rice, sugar, beans, maize  and flour to Elohim Development Centre (where 4040 is building a dormitory) for every comment you make on this particular post on their  facebook page <<

As if that is not enough, every time you share the post, the children will get double. So, if you posted sugar, they instantly receive two kilograms of sugar 🙂

I can’t think of a more meaningful way to commemorate this week. Even if you will not leave the comfort of your home/office, all the work will be done ‘for you’ with just one simple click! (or two)

This offer ends on Thursday 22nd October.
I urge you all to spare a few minutes, visit the Hello foods facebook page <<here and get clicking. Uhm, now would be nice 🙂

 

 

hello food

Thank you in advance 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Yup, That friend…

There are times in our lives when the people who know us the best are the ones who understand us the least..if that makes sense.

Sometimes you know a friend of yours doesn’t like something but you do it anyway. You know they will pull their hair out slowly if you keep them waiting but either it is beyond you or you think “Surely, what is the worst that can happen. After I say sorry, we shall enjoy the evening.” There are other people who do not even give it much thought.

See, the thing about human nature is that we want what is best for us, to be in our comfort zone to be well, happy. Sometimes, it comes at the cost of hurting other people but well, it is okay..as long us we get what we want. .right? Not.You realise eventually that you can’t expect to receive 90% for every 100% you put in. In fact, you shall be lucky to get a little over 50..but do not despair, you will also give another close person 40% when he is at a comfortable 95% for you. It isn’t tit for tat, but you get my drift.. Sad, isn’t it?

We are all different and thus it is unfair to gauge people based on others and yet it is simply inevitable. Deep down we want to be appreciated the same way we appreciate others…as a matter of fact, we want even more. Selfish,yes. Human? Double yes!

I used to ‘grade’ my friendships based on (mostly) trying times. Have they been there for me? Do they call? Are they interested in listening or simply hearing? Do they care what I am saying or they simply can’t wait to add this to the rumour mill? The list goes on.

It got exhausting.  Love is about accepting each others differences. If it is worth it, you fight for it. If the fights are more than the laughs..erm, no prizes for guessing what happens next. Along the way you get to find out where each of ‘your people’  lie. If you are lucky, you will ‘guess’ right. Sometimes though, you will ‘sleep with the enemy’  whose left hand is holding  a nice sharp dagger under the pillow while her right holds you close.

C’est la vie.

friends

Here is a real life scenario which I didn’t even intend to analyse. It is quite simple but can also be very telling.

I invited some friends over for lunch recently and each of them reacted differently. Here is how;

*Do you see yourself here, once or twice? Do you now which of your friends would sit around, support or simply run? Please share your experiences, I would love to ‘hear’ them.

1. The one who called to RSVP

2. The one who never bothered to respond to invitation

3. The one who said they would come but did not

4. The one who didn’t say they would come but did

5. The friend who called to ask ‘how can I help?’

6. The one who simply called and said “I shall be there early to help,” Didn’t have to ask.

7. The friend who walked in and went straight into the kitchen to cut up some salads

8. The friend who hovered around the kitchen waiting to be given a duty/discover a way to help

9. The one who had somewhere else to be but dropped by to say hello then left

10. The person who made jokes throughout the gathering

11. The one who noticed when her neighbour was ‘going to be sick’  and followed her to the house, just to check then brought her a glass of water

12. The friend who mingled with everyone she found

13. The friend who sat quietly waiting to see someone he is comfortable with

14. The one who called to ask what they should buy on their way

15. The person who didn’t ask but carried some drinks and snacks

16. The friend who kept cleaning up after everyone

17. The friend who called to say he was running late

18. The one who didn’t pick calls because they knew they were late

19. The friend who updated me every step of the way

20. The one who kept asking how many people had come so he only arrives when others are there

21. The ones who stayed after everyone had left just to make sure things were okay

22. The one who stayed to simply…talk

23. The friend who called days later to ask how it went

24. The one who sent the RSVP after a week, because they saw me and had an ‘oops moment’

25. The friend who said he knew I had spent a lot and gave me a contribution when we next met.

Hehe, it goes on and on. What am I trying to say? I do not love each one of them any less.. I accept them as they accept me.We are just different, beautifully so.

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