July 9th, 2013
02:15 PM ET
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While staying in the beach town of Mombasa, Kenya, iReporter Brian Oh biked approximately 15 miles through the countryside to reach this village, where he was offered a traditional Kenyan lunch. He says he was intoxicated by "the fresh smell of soil everywhere and the sweetness of mango and banana on the air. It was serene and almost primeval." After eating the meal with his bare hands, he left the family with $11 equivalent in Kenyan shillings and biked back to his hotel in Mombasa. – jccarp, CNN iReport producer

Oh told iReport:

On a bike ride through the countryside along the coast in Mombasa, Kenya, I had lunch at a local village consisting of a freshly butchered chicken, sukuma wiki (greens prepared with onions and tomatoes), boiled potatoes and plantains, and ugali (corn maize cake).

While the meal was being prepared, a number of other villagers gathered under the small awning outside the hut. One of them, named Abdul, seemed like something of a patriarch. Abdul introduced me to "mnazi," a traditional palm wine made from the fermented sap of palm leaves. It's a milky, white substance that's drunk through a filtered reed to remove any particulate matter. It's bitter and sour, but leaves an almost sickly sweet residue.

They appeared to go through multiple bottles of the stuff while I was there. Who knows how many they drink a day? It's made on a daily basis and there are steps carved into palm trees to facilitate the harvest of the leaves.

I watched as Abdul brought around a live chicken and taunt some of the onlooking children with it. He then proceeded to slit its throat as I and a crowd of children watched on. Some of them even held the wings down as I was busy taking pictures. The women then cleaned and gutted the bird in preparation for cooking. It was cooked in a small pot over a tiny charcoal stove with a little bit of cooking oil from a small baggie and store bought curry powder. They then proceeded to use the same pot and stove for each successive dish, including the sukuma wiki, potatoes and bananas, and ugali.

It was fascinating to watch the meal come together as the trio of village women worked for about 1.5 hours. Overall, like most Kenyan food, the food was not very flavor rich, for lack of much seasoning, but was enjoyable and edifying. With a compressed fistful of ugali in one hand and potatoes or chicken in the other, I ate and laughed with the villagers.

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Filed under: African • Cuisines • iReport • Kenyan

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Marsha Inbubiya

    I totally disagreee with Oh, Kenyan cuisine and African cuisine for that matter is very rich in flavour and taste.

    July 12, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  2. afireworkinprogress

    It's so fascinating how eating rituals vary across and even within cultures. Sometimes the differences are striking and sometimes subtle. But always so interesting!

    July 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  3. Vasun

    Love the photos in this article!

    July 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
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