Angela and Nancy making chapati
On Labor Day, Ryan and I had a few members of the St. Julie Centre staff over for dinner to celebrate both the work we are doing and also our day off. Angela, one of the occupational therapists, and Nancy who helps with just about everything at the Center, agreed to prepare the meal. David, the occupational therapist who runs the Center, and Tom, the groundskeeper were also invited.
David and Tom in the sitting room
Ryan entertained David and Tom in the sitting room while I helped Angela and Nancy in the kitchen. Although it is Kenyan culture for women to prepare food in a household while the men sit and discuss “important” matters, such as sports or politics, I spent most of my time in the kitchen learning about Kenyan cooking. The meal would consist of chicken, chapattis, ugali, and sukuma wiki.
Since most women in Kenya do the cooking, it is not uncommon for a Kenyan woman to know how to slaughter a chicken, and so Nancy did the honors. Ryan and I purchased a large rooster and Nancy slaughtered it in our courtyard before cooking it for dinner. I tend to enjoy a meal more when I haven’t witnessed the slaughtering of the animal just before and so I went out back while Nancy did her work.
Nancy removes all of the feathers
Slaughtering a chicken is typically done by removing the animal’s head from it’s body using a standard kitchen knife. Once the blood is allowed to drain, the chicken is put into a pot of hot water allowing the feathers to be easily removed. Then the chicken is cooked three times. First, it is smoked whole over a charcoal fire. Then it is cut into pieces and boiled in a cooking pot. Lastly, it is fried on a charcoal jiko in a sufuria pot until the skin turns brown. Then it is nearly ready to eat.
The chicken is fried in a sufuria potIt is also part of Kenyan culture to use every part of the chicken so nothing goes to waste and one chicken can feed a family with many members. It is common to serve chicken with parts such as the liver, gizzard, feet, and even the head. I was told that the gizzard is considered one of the best parts and it is served to the head man of the house. Tradition says that a man can divorce his wife if she does not prepare for him the gizzard of a chicken. No complaints here!
While the chicken cooked, Angela and Nancy were busy preparing the rest of the meal. They prepared chapattis; a Kenyan flat bread, along with ugali; maize meal porridge, and sukuma wiki; kale that is fried with onions and tomatoes.
When the food was finished cooking we brought it all across the courtyard and into the sitting room of the house where David lead us in prayer. We thanked God for bringing us all together on this day to enjoy the food which had been prepared for us and then we began to eat. The meal that Angela and Nancy prepared for us was delicious and it was good to be able to spend my Labor Day with friends.