Friday, October 21, 2011

To Market To Market

On Wednesday, I went with my friend from the center (for the purposes of this blog I will call him Steve) to visit the largest market in Kenya. In fact it is also the largest market in all of East Africa. Now when I say market, I want you to picture your local farmer's market on steroids. This market has pretty much anything you could want from clothes to spices, fruits & vegetables, used coffee cans, and much much more. I didn't even end up seeing half of it. Vendors upon vendors were packed side by side in makeshift booths trying their best to move their product. The walkways were muddy and narrow and the whole area felt like a maze that I probably would have gotten lost in if Steve wasn't with me. We went there to find some bolts for a couple of basketball rims.  We found the "bolt" guy and after fishing through his stack of random nuts and bolts, Steve found what he needed. Bolts in hand we headed towards the fish section of the market. Now, I have never been a real big fan of fish, especially the smell, so the idea of walking through an area full of raw fish didn't sound too appealing. It was quite apparent as we moved towards the fish section that we were getting close as evidenced by the unmistakeable smell of raw fish. Once again numerous vendors with their baskets of fish beside them were attempting to convince me that their fish was clearly the best. To me all of the fish looked and smelled the same so how was I to know if they were telling the truth. Steve loves fish so he picked out one for lunch that suited him. I on the other hand settled with fried nyama (meat) with some ugali and greens.

Let me take this time to share my experiences with the food here so far. The two staple Kenyan foods are ugali and chapati. Ugali looks like very thick mashed potatoes, but certainly doesn't taste like them, in fact ugali doesn't really have any taste. It is made of maize flour and water. It is very starchy and the Kenyans like it because it "sticks to the ribs" as we like to say. To eat it, you grab a hunk and roll it into a ball with your fingers and then pick up your greens or meat and eat them together. Chapati looks like a thick tortilla and tastes somewhat similar as well. They are made of wheat flour and aren't too bad. The one time that I've had chapati I mixed it with beans. I've also tried some Somali and Ethiopian foods, both of which also aren't too bad. Of the three: Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Somali, I think I prefer Ethiopian.

After finishing up our lunch we made our way through the maze of vendors to a matatu and returned to the center, thus ending my first market experience. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, but maybe next time I go I will take some.

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